ESMC criticises lack of solar manufacturing in Euro recovery plans


The trade body founded in 2018 to lobby for the return of solar manufacturing to Europe has bemoaned the lack of plans for PV production in the Covid recovery plans submitted by EU member states to Brussels.

The European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC) has pored over the recovery and resilience plans submitted by 18 member states as part of the process of claiming a share of the bloc's €673 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and said only Italy's document specifically mentions the potential of PV manufacturing.

A statement issued by the trade body last night pointed out the plans submitted to the European Commission for consideration by Germany, France, Austria, Belgium and Lithuania – member states which host solar manufacturers – contained no mention of support for those companies.

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“This could be interpreted as a negative signal for the PV manufacturing market already established in these countries,” said the ESMC. The trade body added, the emphasis given by member states to developing a green hydrogen industry would require even more solar generation capacity, exacerbating the current “import over-dependency” which, according to the lobby group, amounts to a €7.4 billion deficit thanks to the inflow of Asian solar cells and modules.

The Brussels-based organization called for the 18 member states which had already submitted RRF plans to revisit them and devote funding to solar manufacturing and for the countries yet to draw up their funding recovery strategies – Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, and Sweden – to include PV production.

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Describing the RRF application process as “the last opportunity to plan for … adequate PV manufacturing support,” the ESMC has said €20 billion of EU funding devoted to revitalizing European solar manufacturing could trigger a market worth €50 billion within five years.

The group praised the authors of Italy's RRF plan, who highlighted the opportunity to support industrial value chains, including PV, to break free of a dependency on Asian imports. The government of Italy has suggested €680 million of its RRF cash could be devoted to the renewables industry supply chain.

Elsewhere, Portugal has suggested €930 million of its EU dole-out could back manufacturing and energy investment, Spain mentioned industrial supply chain support and Poland outlined a €1.1 billion support package for low and zero-carbon economy investment, although all but €214 million would be devoted to e-mobility. None of those three nations specifically cited the solar industry in their recovery plans, according to the ESMC.

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