Europe needs intact, thriving value chains for each renewable energy technology insists Clean Energy Industry Forum in Brussels on 09 January 2018

Many speakers, representing the diversity of the renewable energy sector, insisted on industrial policy support for all steps in their technology’s value chain, crucially including manufacturing. They urged Europe to aim for high-quality products. Julien Pouget, Senior Vice-President Renewables at Total, called for “quality, sustainability and eco-friendliness” to become criteria for products to be on the European market. Others joined him, calling for the EU to press its high standards on the countries it trades with to prevent carbon leakage.

Stefan Rinck, CEO of Singulus Technologies, Germany, was ETIP PV’s representative at the meeting. He called for 20 GW of PV installations per year in Europe. Within this, he said, at least “a third of the supported market [e.g. through tenders] should be for sustainable high-quality products.” The criteria would be chosen to suit existing European manufacturers or manufacturing start-ups. China has a similar measure with its ‘Top Runner’ programme.

Florence Lambert, CEO of CEATECH LITEN (a big French research institute), joined Jef Poortmans (PV Program Director at IMEC) in calling for “pilot lines for pre-series production runs to decrease the risk for potential investors” in new technology. These lines, said Poortmans, should be reconfigurable to accommodate several process technologies and different cell processing flows. Lambert said it would be unwise for Europe to stake all on the downstream end of the PV value chain: “We won’t keep our leadership by only integrating renewable energy technology.” This, she said, is something Asian companies “will be able to do”, with the difference that they will ultimately have better “core technology” to integrate.

Dominique Ristori (Director General of DG Energy) chaired the meeting. He summed up saying that Europe’s technology reaches the “highest standards and quality.” The EU should “focus on innovation and the use of the most advanced products.” Earlier, responding to speakers’ individual statements, he twice agreed that ensuring the long-term future for complete technology value chains was “fundamental”.