Intersolar Europe: from Trump to Turkey

Despite repeated prompting and a series of open questions designed to elicit the type of quotable invective directed at Donald Trump that journalists of all creeds love, attendees at Intersolar Europe were refreshingly sanguine on the news that the U.S. president is poised to pull the country out of its Paris Agreement obligations.

While the far-reaching impact of such a decision can not fully be known right now, the consensus among solar and renewable energy experts is that PV, wind, storage and decentralized energy will chart their own paths towards even wider adoption, no matter what retrograde measures and policies are put in place by Trump.

It was particularly edifying to hear Claus Wattendrup, head of business development for wind and solar at Swedish utility firm Vattenfall effectively declare that renewable energy is the future, and everybody – including Trump – has to accept that.

“The train has left the station,” Wattendrup told pv magazine. “Vattenfall knows better than most how the energy system is changing, with more flexible systems and prices. Renewables and storage play an important role in this, which is why Vattenfall has begun pursuing these industries over the past couple of years.”

Wattendrup said that the company’s overall aim is to become C02-free – quite a claim for a firm that is one of Europe’s largest coal generators. “We want to be an important player in the new energy mix, so we have to change, and that means more clean energy and not fossil fuel energy.

“It is a shame that Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Even without Trump, China is fully committed, that is even more important. Most of Europe is fully committed. Africa is completely committed. Solar is the trend, and you cannot stop that. Clean energy doesn’t depend on one politician or one country, it is about economics, and solar is so cheap now, wind too, there is no way back.”

If Trump supporters backing the repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) could be construed as Turkeys voting for Christmas, what has also become clear at Intersolar Europe is that Turkey (the country) is voting for solar. And in a big way.

Expectations from BNEF are that the country could add 1 GW of PV capacity this year, and even more in 2018 and 2019 – all despite the relatively shaky political climate in the country.

Derek Huang, senior sales director EMEA region for Chinese inverter company Sungrow, told pv magazine that the Turkish solar market is proving exceptionally strong in 2017.

“We have seen our market share in Turkey rise to 30%,” Huang said, “and demand for all types of our inverters has been strong. If the current policies can be clarified a little further in the future – particularly in terms of the licensed and unlicensed segments – then we foresee that Turkey could become Europe’s strongest solar market.”