After encouraging signs within the solar PV industry and the renewables energy industry as a whole in 2015, SolarPower Europe is calling on the continent to show its leadership credentials and raise the renewable energy target set at the COP21. Last year saw a resurgence of the PV industry in Europe, but to fulfill SolarPower Europes lofty ambitions more needs to be done, including, possibly, the introduction of regulatory frameworks that value flexibility.
A global target was set at the COP21 in Paris, to limit the global temperate increase to 1.5C degrees. To achieve this, the EU set a renewable energy target of 27% to be achieved by 2030. However, Oliver Schaefer, President of SolarPower Europe, doesnt believe that this is ambitious enough to keep the global rise in temperate limited to 1.5C degrees and wants the European Commission, Member States and European Parliament to do more. He said We have therefore unanimously agreed to call for a renewable energy target of 35% to be achieved by 2030. The European Union must review the targets suggested in 2014 in line with global developments.
This drive could certainly be invigorated by the encouraging increase in solar capacity in Europe and across the world in 2015. During SolarPower Europes 11th Solar Market Workshop held last week, the organization highlighted the reversal of a three-year decline in Europe, which saw solar capacity grow by 15% in 2015. The UK, Germany and France led the way for installations in 2015, accounting for 75% of the new connections. This increase maintained Europes position as the most solarized continent, now with an average of almost 4% its electricity consumption supplied by solar.
To achieve another wave of solar investment in Europe, SolarPower Europe has noted that there should be a focus on smart energy regulation that values flexibility. The majority of European power grids are already oversupplied, which means that large value could be placed upon smart energy management and storage.
Speaking at last weeks workshop in Brussels, the IEAs Paolo Frankl, who heads its Renewable Energy Division, repeatedly argued that a price on carbon and wholesale electricity tariffs will be insufficient for Europe to see sufficient renewables investment to deliver on its climate goals. Frankl said that long term policy signals are required for the sufficient investment in solar and wind, but also on increased grid interconnectivity, demand side management and electricity storage.
Solar Power Europe CEO James Watson said that reactive power and negative balancing can be achieved by PV systems alone, while adding storage of the PV systems, positive balancing and self-regulated consumption can also be offered. Therefore, what we need now is the right regulatory framework to activate such services in a market-based approach.
Such a framework has been created by energy consortium, Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF), which rewards stakeholders for their flexibility, and has been designed to fit different markets. However, as a result of existing regulations in certain countries, the national regulator would need to agree.