Solar industry demands new strategy for European PV

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Speaking at SolarPower Europe’s recent 4th High-Level Industry Forum at Intersolar Europe in Munich, officials from the industry organization, as well as senior executives from a number of major companies, called for the adoption of a new industrial strategy for European solar.

Representatives from key market players such as Enel Green Power, Sonnen eServices, Belectric Solar & Battery, SMA Solar Technology and Meyer Burger participated in the forum, which featured a keynote speech by Paula Abreu-Marques, head of unit for renewables and CCS policy in the European Commission, DG Energy. The discussion forum followed SolarPower Europe’s release of several recommendations in March that focused on ways the European Commission can advance the interests of the continent’s PV industry.

Christian Westermeier, president of SolarPower Europe and chairman of the solar trade body’s Industrial Competitiveness Task Force, noted that the organization’s medium scenario foresees more than 20 GW of new capacity additions across the continent this year.

“With such strong market prospects, it is now the right moment to build on Europe’s highly innovative and state-of-the-art solar technologies,” Westermeier said. “The European Commission’s Clean Energy Industrial Forum, launched in 2018, is an exceptional opportunity to accelerate Europe’s solar industry leadership across the entire solar value chain with a particular focus on manufacturing and must be a top priority for the next cycle of EU policymakers.”

Hans Brändle, CEO of Meyer Burger, said the European solar industry needs to prioritize the formulation of a “geostrategical” approach.

“It is impressive how China’s government has fully understood solar’s potential as the world’s future dominant power source and has become a global leader both on the demand as well as on the supply side,” Brändle said. “(There) is a huge opportunity for European policymakers to create an appropriate solar industrial strategy that enables the sector to develop a meaningful, robust and competitive European solar production industry.“

Jürgen Reinert, CEO of SMA Solar Technology, echoed Brändle’s sentiments.

“With an industrial strategy for solar, the EU can take global leadership on the existing and next generation of solar technologies,” Reinert said. “SMA, as a leading European specialist in photovoltaic system technology, supports an industrial policy for solar that can facilitate a strong and competitive European solar industry for generations to come.”

Giovanni Tula, CIO of Enel Green Power, also argued that a new strategy for the industry is of “vital” importance.

“Enel Green Power is committed to shaping the right framework for EU solar manufacturing to grow along the whole value chain,” Tula said.

Earlier this month, SolarPower Europe revealed that it expects 128 GW of new PV capacity to be installed throughout the world this year. It expects China to account for about 43 GW of the annual total by the end of December, with global demand likely to hit 144 GW next year.