The European photovoltaic industry: how to reach energetic independence
Supporting the entire value chain in Europe, and reviewing European support programs to draw investor funding. These are some of the recommendations recently published by the European Solar PV Industry Alliance (ESIA), launched by the European Commission at the end of 2022.
“To install over 320 GW of PV plants before 2025, and 600 GW before 2030, Europe must be able to rely on a strong and resilient supply chain. The urgency to mitigate the current dependency on a single Country - and China in particular - is recognized worldwide. Several states are implementing funding programs to promote the relocation of the photovoltaic supply chain to Europe.” This is stated in the document published by ESIA, with 3SUN’s contribution, and titled “Recommendations on financial mechanisms to fill the cost gap and restore the PV industry in Europe”. The paper specifies how to bridge the financial gap between module producers in the EU, and PB market leaders in other Countries, which could benefit from decades of massive incentives, to make European solar production more competitive, and achieve the objectives of the Net Zero Industry Act, set to 30 GW of annual production capacity in Europe before 2030.
The ESIA suggests some short-term actionsto reduce the financial gap. Among them, State aids to fund not only the investments, but most importantly the operating costs, for sufficient time to make the project attractive for any potential investor; to support the entire value chain, from raw materials to the final product; to extend the funds beyond to innovative projects, to all currently available technologies that can quickly increase the construction of the production lines; and, above all, to reward the best performing PV products, based on specific environmental requirements and social criteria aligned with European objectives.
Proposals by the European Solar Manufacturing Council and SolarPower Europe
ESIA’s paper follows a few notices published in September by European field associations European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC) and SolarPower Europe. Specifically, the ESMC stepped in on the topic of PV module production in Europe, highlighting the current critical issues for the European market, caused by excessively low-priced photovoltaic modules sold in Europe and coming from China.
Speaking on behalf of the main players in the solar manufacturing industry of the Old Continent, the ESMC prompted the European Commission and Member States to step in immediately, by asking: the exclusion of photovoltaic modules produced through forced labour from the European market; the emergency purchase of modules produced in Europe, such as through the Ukraine Facility framework, to help and reconstruct Ukraine, and the inclusion of a share of components coming from European production sites in renewable solar projects. “The European PV manufacturing market needs some guarantees concerning the increase of the national production starting from 2026”, and it adds: “We could start with a 10% goal, to be increased year after year, until reaching 40% in 2030, as established by the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA).”
On the same line, SolarPower Europe sent a letter to European Institutions and published a declaration by the association Board, requesting further measures to protect the revival of European photovoltaic production. The Association highlights that, although the decrease in costs is a good way to accelerate a cost-effective energy transition, on the other hand the risk is creating a deeply precarious situation for European PV solar energy manufacturers, which have been supported until now by medium- and long-term initiatives, and by ample political endorsement. Among the solutions suggested, SolarPower Europe requests suitable financial tools at European level for the manufacturing sector, a revision of the State aid framework, and an accelerated adoption of the NZIA and of the non-price criteria in dedicated bids.
3SUN is on the forefront in reaffirming that the energy transition - our Continent’s objective - should be real, and it should set off from basic components of the energy we put into the network. The targets we set as Europe can be achieved only by developing an independent photovoltaic industry as sustainable as possible, which will bring the dual benefit of creating competence, jobs and income locally, while protecting end customers from the unforeseeable energy prices we have seen in the last years, caused by social-political upheaval.