Open letter for preservation of EU solar industry receives further support

A month after the publication of the open letter, more than 100 research centers, associations and companies have signed the petition sent to the EU policy makers. In their “Open Letter from the European PV Community“, the PV research and upstream organizations ETIP, EUREC and Solarunited  asked EU politicians to increase efforts to preserve a sustainable and competitive European solar industry.

In the open letter, the organization asked for urgent measures to protect the European solar industry, claiming that this is necessary to provide energy independence, industrial jobs, and economic growth.

Europe, which has for years been a driving force in technological development for PV, has until now maintained its value chain starting from raw materials to equipment to complete PV systems.

The reason for the letter was the provisional insolvency of German module maker SolarWorld, which spread fears that vital parts of the PV industry in Europe could be lost and, with them, other activities in the R&D sector. On Wednesday, the provisional insolvency administrator of the company revealed that an unspecified investor is interested in acquiring its two manufacturing facilities in Germany. This operation, however, may still lead to the lay-off of around 1,200 employees. This shows, the three organizations said in a joint press release, how urgent the measures requested for the industry are.

Overall, the three organizations, which are now planning the next steps to build on the momentum created by the letter, have submitted seven requests. First of all, European policy makers were demanded to maintain existing manufacturing facilities and develop further Europe’s state-of-the-art factories. Furthermore, the letter asks not to relocate solar manufacturing activities. National and European investment banks are also invited to signal their interest in backing PV manufacturing. In addition, the three associations claim, access to investment support needs to be provided.

The second action called for in the letter is focused on supporting the manufacture of high-quality, technologically advanced products at scale. This could guarantee that Europe has the right strategy to remain internationally competitive in the solar industry, the letter stresses.

In their third request, the authors of the letter say that Europe should increase and sufficiently finance solar R&D activities. “The current financing schemes at national and European level,” the letter says, “should be raised to the levels of our foreign competitors. Also, European public money for pilot production must require that initial commercial scale production happens in Europe.”

The fourth recommendation urges European policy makers to implement smart regulation to give products complying with EU manufacturing standards the advantage of receiving public support if linked to sustainability and efficiency criteria.

The last three actions required by the letter call for the creation of a special contribution from EU member states with the biggest R&D expenditures, the fostering of political and technological cooperation with emerging markets, and the removal of all barriers against the rapid addition of centralized and decentralized PV to the power system in Europe.