A new map published by the European Commission shows the photovoltaic solar energy potential of different parts of Europe. It shows that an identical solar system will generate twice the amount of energy in sunny areas of Europe, such as Malta and Southern Spain, than in areas such as Scotland or Northern Scandinavia. Interactive maps are valuable tools as the EU seeks to increase the share of renewable energies in its consumption to 20% in 2020. Photovoltaic Solar Cells (PV for short) convert sunlight directly into electricity. The interactive on-line PhotoVoltaic Geographical Information System (PVGIS), developed by the Commission's in-house scientific service, DG Joint Research Centre, allows users to calculate the expected energy yield in kWh for any PV module located in Europe or Northern Africa. While it is perhaps no surprise that the solar energy potential of Southern Europe is higher than Northern Europe, the interactive information service map allows very specific calculation of the amount of energy that can be generated in any given location in Europe and its neighbouring regions. This calculation is based on knowledge of the sun's energy, geographic distribution, the different terrain across Europe and detailed technological analysis of the available photovoltaic technologies. It also shows that considerable potential exists in Europe for greater use of solar energy. In addition to the map and the interactive service, the PVGIS provides a wealth of information about the development of photovoltaic technology, such as figures on its share of total national electricity consumption in each Member State, up-to-date research on photovoltaics and links to world-wide databases of solar technology and data. The new PVGIS is a powerful tool for the development of new solar power plants.


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