Europe is a leader in the field of photovoltaic solar energy, one of the most promising sources of renewable energy. In order to remain among the world's top three players in PV research, national programmes must be properly managed to identify opportunities and prevent duplication of activities. With the support of European funding, the Pv-ec-net project supported a network of coordinators of national programmes from around the EU and included associated states. The project collected, assessed and disseminated information concerning PV national research programmes through its information network. The consortium conducted a survey that benchmarked European research and development programmes against those of leading competitors such as Japan, the USA and Australia. Information on national research programmes was collected through the use of questionnaires and the results analysed by programme managers and experts from the Pv-ec-net project. The findings identified factors critical to the success and failure of research initiatives. The information collated was used to assess the EU's position in the world PV market and help create a common European research strategy. The strategy will cover all aspects of PV research and development, including large-scale implementation and grid connection, as well as environmental issues such as life-cycle analysis (LCA). Improving the coordination of research activities will help speed up the development and use of PV as a source of clean, renewable energy for the EU. This in turn will lead to the creation of new jobs, provide a welcome boost to Europe's economy and help protect the environment.