With European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen having outlined her ambition to spend at least €1 trillion on the next stage of Europe’s energy transition, EU trade body SolarPower Europe has repeated its call for an industrial strategy for PV.
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of the lobby group, offered fulsome praise of the commission’s plan to generate the cash from a mix of its 2021-27 budget and member state and private sector contributions and said solar should be at the center of the commission’s vision.
“Solar is booming in the EU, with [a more than] 100% market increase in 2019 and projections showing record-breaking installations in the coming years,” Hemetsberger told pv magazine. “This is a golden opportunity to adopt an industrial strategy for the solar industry that can ensure the security of [energy] supply, the creation of highly-skilled and local jobs and to maintain Europe’s world-leading R&D in solar.”
The organization has long called for favorable treatment for solar in terms of taxation, reducing red tape, accessing finance and easing land acquisition for project development, arguing the EU needs to do more to help the industry. A solar industrial strategy drawn up by SolarPower Europe was presented to the EU in March.
Hemetsberger has said Europe should aim for 30 million more PV rooftops by 2030 and could play a key role in decarbonizing polluting industries such as steel and chemical manufacturing. SolarPower Europe has also highlighted solar opportunities in the mobility and space heating sectors and has called for its own version of China’s Top Runner program to help technical innovations into commercial production.
CEO Hemetsberger welcomed plans, announced by Von der Leyen on Tuesday, for the European Investment Bank to double the amount of lending it makes to climate-linked investments to half of its capital outflows and said solar was in prime position to help Europe’s coal-dependent communities as part of the commission’s mooted €143 billion ‘Just Transition Mechanism’.
Just the ticket
“The Just Transition Mechanism proposal by the European Commission is a positive step towards an inclusive and just energy transition,” said Hemetsberger. “It is crucial that no European regions or communities are left behind in the upcoming climate transition and solar, as the most cost-effective, scalable and popular energy source, can play a significant role in ensuring a beneficial transition for all.
The SolarPower Europe chief added, a study by commission science research body the Joint Research Center had “found solar to be particularly suitable for employing former coal workers and to help drive regional development”.
Regarding the wider plans announced this week, which will now be subject to approval by EU member states and the European Parliament, Hemetsberger told pv magazine: “For solar, the news that the European Commission has committed to mobilise at least €1 trillion of investments over the next decade to support a just and green transition, and that the European Investment Bank will increase the share of climate-dedicated financing from the current 25% up to 50% in the next five years is cause for celebration, as the redirected funds will help continue the EU’s upward trajectory of solar deployments.”