Wind power is already competing with conventional production, and solar photovoltaic and solar thermal costs cheaper every year. A future based on renewable energy is now a reality.

The electricity generated by solar panels in Europe may have to wait until the end of the decade compete head to head with other conventional sources, said Monday the world’s largest association of the sector. However, the Association of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) said that some regions could be achieved before that point.

Based on a study that looked at five major solar markets, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the UK’s competitiveness could be achieved by 2020, EPIA said. This sector continues to rely on governments, which subsidize producers of solar energy and then put these incentives in the electricity bill of consumers.

Governments have long cutting sector support to force industry to cut costs at a faster pace, but the process has hurt German companies such as Conergy, Q-Cells and Solon. ‘The cost of photovoltaic electricity generation in Europe could be reduced from a range of 0.16 to 0.35 euros (0.23 to 0.50 dollars) per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2010 to a range of 0.08 – € 0.18 per kWh in 2020, depending on system size and level of irradiation, ‘EPIA said in a report released Monday.

This compares, for example, generation costs about 0.9 euros for coal in Germany in 2010, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). EPIA said that competitiveness could be achieved more rapidly in some regions, and highlighted Italy, where, according to the segment and the size of the system, could take only two to three years.

“With the political and market measures, the competitiveness with grid can be achieved in some markets as early as 2013, and then spread across the continent in different market segments in 2020,” he said.

Among the more than 240 partners are the U.S. EPIA First Solar, the world’s largest solar company by market value, SMA Solar-number one in Germany and China’s Suntech Power Holdings, the leading manufacturer of solar cells worldwide. The European Union is trying to increase the share of renewables in total energy consumption by 20 percent in 2020.

Germany, which aims to increase its share to 35 percent in 2020, and derived more than a fifth of its total energy needs from renewable sources in the first half of the year, data showed the Energy Industry Association (BDEW by its German acronym) released last week.

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