The UK solar market is the eighth-largest market in the world, according to new figures released by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Global installations climbed by 70 percent from last year to 27.7GW, with the UK contributing an impressive 700MW of capacity. This news follows on from Solar Power Portal's own estimates, which placed the UK in among the world's top 10 at the beginning of this year.

According to the figures, Europe accounted for 75 percent of all new capacity, with Italy and Germany accounting for nearly 60 percent of global market growth during the past year.

In total six global markets broke the 1GW barrier of installed capacity, half of which were in Europe.

The total output of all capacity installed in 2011 was equal to 80 billion kilowatt hours, which is enough to cover the annual power supply needs of over 20 million households. EPIA also predicts that, with the expected contribution from southern European countries, over 60 billion kilowatt hours of energy will be produced in Europe from solar installations every year.

However, harsh economic conditions in Europe have caused solar incentive schemes to be drastically cut across the continent. The pan-European cuts are expected to drastically dampen European demand.

Ingmar Wilhelm, EPIA President, explained: “Whilst European markets have always outpaced home production, this will presumably no longer be the case in the years to come. New markets around the world will have to be opened up to drive PV development in the coming decade just as Europe accounted for it during the last decade. Strengthening the PV momentum by adding additional markets of important growth can be considered the single most important achievement on the continued growth track of world-wide PV development.”

The wider industry trend for the UK is still unclear as uncertainty over domestic FiT rates will continue to plague the market until proposed rates are enforced on March 3.