SolarPower Europe calls for 5 GW of EU solar module manufacturing


At the heart of SolarPower Europe’s European industrial solar strategy is the goal of establishing 5 GW of PV module manufacturing.

President Christian Westermeier states that now is the time to develop all segments of the solar manufacturing supply chain, with a policy framework to support the new market opportunities that are arising from both the proposed Clean Energy Package and the removal of the minimum import price (MIP).

“Demand for solar is set to rise soon to around 15GW a year in Europe and we should now see a concerted effort to deliver on every segment of the industrial value chain here in Europe,” said Westermeier, adding, “Our members unanimously backed this call both in our Industrial Strategy Taskforce and at our Board meeting. We want to see all solar products, including wafers, cells and modules, made in the EU in the coming years.”

Policy director Aurélie Beauvais added that in addition to the establishment of a large manufacturing industry, which should be supported by relaxing state aid laws, the association is calling for more accessible financing and land acquisition, low energy costs and less red tape.

SolarPower Europe says it will put its key recommendations to European Commissioner for Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, in January at the next high level Clean Energy Industrial Forum. Over 35 leading EU solar industrial players are said to backing the call, including Wacker, SMA, Total, Weidmuller, Voestalpine, SolarWatt, ABB and Enel.

Under its proposed strategy, the association also envisages the creation of 300,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030, from around 100,000 today.

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In September, the European Solar Manufacturing Council (EMSC) was launched at EU PVSEC in Brussels. At the time, the participating research institutes, mechanical engineers, material and PV manufacturers stressed the importance of having big solar manufacturers in Europe.

Expected to be founded in early 2019, it “will be an association of upstream producers and science, not just about cheap modules, but also about sustainability, quality and technological advancement,” Total’s Luc de Marliave told pv magazine at the event.

In 2017, SolarPower Europe reported that European PV module manufacturing capacity had fallen from 6.9 GW to 6.7 GW over the course of 2016, with utilization falling to only 40% – meaning a mere 2.7 GW of modules produced.

In a similar vein, at the high level Clean Energy Industrial Forum at this year’s Intersolar Europe, the critical importance of establishing a European battery industry was underlined by Maroš Šefcovic, VP for Energy Union, European Commission.

He said that Europe failed to provide good support and strategic planning for the whole solar PV value chain in the past, meaning it went to other locations (read: China), and that we must learn from this going forward. As such, he said the European industry cannot depend on imports of batteries from Asia, but must capture the market. “We should create manufacturing here in Europe,” he said, across the whole supply chain.

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