€1.2 billion “urgently” needed to boost European PV industry

The association also called for production capacity to be increased. “R&D is not sufficient alone and has no impact on competitiveness if it is not accompanied by an increase in volumes and market development," stated Virgilio Navarro, vice president of EPIA and CEO of ATERSA. “The 40 percent price decrease in 2009 and 50 percent in the last two years confirm that political support is still needed to reach economies of scale by increasing production.”

EPIA, together with the European Photovoltaic Technology Platform, presented its Solar Europe Industry Initiative (SEII) at the SET Plan Conference held in Madrid, Spain on June 3. It has been said that SEII will contribute to achieving 12 percent solar PV supply of the EU electricity demand by 2020.

It was announced that during the coming three-year-period, up to 1.2 billion euros in R&D needs to be invested for optimizing production aiming at cost reduction, as well as improving the interface between the electricity grid and PV systems. The association expects close to 60 percent of this sum to be funded by the private sector, with the remainder coming from the European Commission and European Union member states.

In a statement released by EPIA, it said: “These are the first steps in the path to achieving, in this decade, competitiveness with retail electricity prices for residential and commercial sectors, and in locations with high irradiation even competitiveness with conventional fossil fuels for industrial applications.”

Since last year, EPIA and the Photovoltaic Technology Platform have worked jointly with the European Commission and Member States representatives on the initiative. As a result of this intense work, 16 Member States have expressed their commitment to support the PV part of the SEII and have identified three common areas of high priority in the short term:

  • Advance manufacturing processes for all PV technologies, aiming at reducing costs and improving output
  • Develop Building Integrated PV (BIPV) products and applications for easier and lower cost building integration?
  • Demonstration of concentrator PV technology in the field

The EPIA statement continued: “If the EU wants to maintain the European technology leadership on photovoltaics, EPIA encourages the European Commission and Member States to urgently execute the SEII Implementation plan by putting in place effective financial mechanisms as well as significantly increasing public budgets for R&D. While the SET Plan is being discussed for more than three years now, other governments in Asia and USA are continuing their public R&D support to their industries, which is directly translated into lower manufacturing costs.”