Trade body SolarPower Europe (SPE) has said that Europe’s solar market grew 15% in 2015 with around 8GW of PV connected – around half of that coming from the UK market.

And SPE widely expects the UK to remain Europe's leading market over the course of 2016, with only a storage-backed rush in Germany likely to pose much of a challenge.

SPE said that demand for solar across Europe rose 15% on the 6.95GW installed in 2014, defying three consecutive years of decline from 2011 onwards.

Solar Intelligence has placed the UK’s total deployment in 2015 at around 3.9GW. The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s estimate is a more modest 3.3GW, however the department is traditionally behind in forecasting deployment and has historically revised its own figures up months after their initial release.

SPE however has been working off a figure of 3.5GW for UK solar deployment, placing it at circa 44%.

James Watson, chief executive at SPE, said it was “good to see” the European market grow again and said the increase in activity was primarily based on a strong UK market while demand in other European nations stayed flat or declined.

“Solar needs clear signals from policy makers in Europe to be able to contribute to achieving the climate goals agreed in Paris.

“With solar being competitive for residential and commercial applications in most European countries today, investors need a secure political framework for generation, self-consumption and storage of solar energy,” Watson added.

Speaking to sister publication PV-Tech, Watson said that the amount of solar in the UK's pipeline could see it lead European deployment this year too. ” I’ve got a gut feeling that the UK could still be number one on 2016 depending on how many of those projects in the pipeline actually are realised.

“Even if figure this totals 1.5GW, I reckon the UK could still be the biggest market again. We might see a little rebound in the German market, partly because of the KSW renewal of support for storage systems. These are generally being put together with household PV systems, so that is helping with a bounce in the market,”

While the European market returned to growth it continued to be outstripped by others, with global grid-connected solar up more than 25% to 50GW.