Major solar industry stakeholders gathered in Brussels, under the French EU Presidency, to set out how a renewed European PV industry can address the climate and energy security challenges that the continent is facing.
Organised by the French alternative energies and atomic energy commission, CEA; European trade association SolarPower Europe; and EIT InnoEnergy, the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe supported by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, the event focussed on the redevelopment of solar PV manufacturing in Europe and how to ensure maximum synergy between EU climate and industrial ambitions.
As demand for PV-supplied electricity is set to increase from 3% to 15% by 2030, EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, opened the session by underlining the role of solar in ensuring energy security, “No one can block access to the sun”. Noting the upcoming EU Solar Strategy, which will put a spotlight on the sector and bolster EU solar manufacturing, Simson added: “The only way is up for the industry; technologies will continue to grow as demand for solar energy increases. That represents an opportunity on the supply side, and the EU has the perfect ingredients to seize it.”
Speakers at the event from across the solar value chain highlighted the key advantage of the EU solar sector – it's global technological leadership. Discussions emphasised the need to scale up manufacturing across the value chain, while rapidly addressing remaining barriers, like project and factory permitting delays, and high capital and operational costs.
Participants covered the crucial role of the European Solar Initiative in delivering the European PV manufacturing capacity required to meet demand and were given a preview of the Initiative’s next steps. The Initiative’s financing pillar – the Business Investment Platform – is expected to shortly announce funding decisions for three large-scale PV manufacturing projects.
EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, gave closing remarks outlining how solar deployment challenges can be addressed through better access to funding, support for innovation, and ensuring the resilience of Europe’s raw material supply chains. The Commissioner reiterated the European Commission’s commitment to the European Solar Initiative’s 20 GW EU manufacturing target for 2025.
Thomas Courbe, DG of the French Directorate General for Enterprise, said, “The development of solar energy is essential to achieving our European climate objectives and it will only be possible if we rebuild a European photovoltaic industry. Europe has all the assets to build its strategic autonomy in this field, by supporting innovation and the development of large-scale production capacities, as we are doing in France in the framework of France 2030.”
François Jacq, General Manager of the CEA, commented: “One of the assets of Europe lies in its research and technology organisations which have developed new cell generation technologies offering high levels of performance. As an RTO, CEA is conducting its R&D activities with the constant concern, not only to bring scientific answers to societal challenges, but also to accompany the transfer of our lab results to industry.”
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “Europe must urgently accelerate the renewable energy transition to tackle the climate crisis, and to decrease dependence on energy imports. According to our pre-crisis scenario, 30 GW of solar among which 1,5 million solar roofs will be installed by the end of 2022. The solar industry stands ready to increase these figures, given the urgency. To underpin the energy transition, we must rapidly ensure optimum conditions for European domestic PV manufacturing. This means unlocking investments to rapidly scale up industry and decisive industrial strategy that supports manufacturers.”
Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy, concluded the event by underlining the importance for the industry to go fast and to be bold: "After one year, the European Solar Initiative is ramping up, with three GW-scale manufacturing projects in the making in the framework of the Business Investment Platform, and an industrially ambitious contribution to the EU solar strategy with the goal to create the competitive business environment needed to reshore the PV industry. I am confident that the EU, the industry and financial institutions, working hand in hand, will achieve the target of producing 30 GW of PV, from ingots to modules, in the EU by 2025, making the EU resilient and a global leader for sustainable PV technologies."
Roch Drozdowski-Strehl, CEO of IPVF, said, “Our meeting pointed the strategic importance for Europe of the solar value chain and manufacturing projects that support its energy sovereignty. The contributions of world-renowned speakers have illustrated how close cooperation between industry and research is essential to drive a sustainable energy transition in Europe with global ambitions.”
About EIT InnoEnergy
EIT InnoEnergy operates at the centre of the energy transition and is the leading innovation engine in sustainable energy, bringing the technology and skills required to accelerate the green deal and Europe’s decarbonisation goals.
Recognised globally as the most active sustainable energy investor and one of the largest climate tech and renewable energy tech investors in 2020, EIT InnoEnergy backs innovations across a range of areas. These include, energy storage, transport and mobility, renewables and sustainable buildings and cities – leveraging its trusted ecosystem of 500+ partners and 27 shareholders.
The 300 portfolio companies are on track to generate €72.8 billion in revenue and save 1.1G tons of CO2e annually by 2030.
EIT InnoEnergy is the driving force behind three strategic European initiatives which include the European Battery Alliance (EBA), the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Centre (EGHAC) and the European Solar Initiative (ESI)
EIT InnoEnergy was established in 2010 and is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe. Today, EIT InnoEnergy has offices across Europe and in Boston, US.
About SolarPower Europe
SolarPower Europe is the award-winning link between policymakers and the solar PV value chain. Our mission is to ensure solar becomes Europe’s leading energy source by 2030.
As the member-led association for the European solar PV sector, SolarPower Europe represents over 260 organisations across the entire solar sector. With solar sitting on the horizon of unprecedented expansion, we work together with our members to create the necessary regulatory and business environment to take solar to the next level.
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is a key player in research, development and innovation in four main areas: defence and security, low carbon energies (nuclear and renewable energies), technological research for industry, fundamental research in the physical sciences and life sciences.