Solar energy is a renewable energy resource. Around 6% of total primary energy production of renewable energy in the EU-28 in 2016 was generated by this means. The most common examples of electricity and heat generation from the sun are:

  • conversion of solar energy into electricity by using a photovoltaic cell;
  • concentration of energy from the sun's rays to heat a receiver. This solar heat is transformed into mechanical energy by turbines and thus into electricity available for consumption; and
  • generation of heat energy through solar thermal technologies.

The generation of electricity and heat by means of solar energy has the following main features:

  • solar energy is an infinite resource and freely available;
  • large areas of land are required to capture the sun’s energy with collectors;
  • the generation depends on the level of insolation, which varies between different regions and weather conditions;
  • solar energy can be used in remote areas where the electricity power grid is not available; and
  • more and more everyday appliances can be operated with solar energy.


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Data sources

Data on primary production and gross inland consumption of solar energy for the EU countries, as well as data on electricity generated from renewable sources, can be found in Eurostat's database on energy statistics.

Detailed information on a wide variety of data sources can be obtained via Eurostat’s dedicated section on energy in general and in particular the Statistics Explained page on renewable energy statistics.

Furthermore the Directorate General for Energy offers information on renewable energy.

International energy statistics about renewable energy resources are provided by the OECD and the International Energy Agency (IEA).