The EU Council has rejected a Covid-inspired European Commission proposal for a €40 billion warchest to help coal-dependent regions shift to renewables, with the heads of member states instead allocating €17.5 billion. Despite the final figure being €10 billion higher than that suggested by the commission before coronavirus battered Europe, questions have been asked about how useful the program will be.
With Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Czechia having dragged their heels over climate legislation for years, BloombergNEF has estimated the most economic route out of the coal habit. It is a path which could see 40% less carbon emissions in 2030 than were recorded last year, with a 47% clean energy power mix.
The EU-funded Nextbase project aims to manufacture heterojunction, interdigitated back-contact solar modules for less than €0.275/W. Solar panels featuring the Nextbase cell tech are expected to have a conversion efficiency of 23.2%, according to the European Commission.
Plus, Australia’s Greens want renewables front and center of the post Covid-19 economy and Mexican plant owners are overturning a politically-motivated ban on clean energy, however, Indian developer Acme solar says pandemic delays warrant it reneging on the terms of the record-low solar price agreement it signed.
According to the Czech Solar Association, the move against solar will likely trigger defaults for thousands of PV projects. The Czech government also plans to build more nuclear power plants and has vowed to extend the lifespan of its coal-fired plants.
The economic fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak is yet to be determined but as legislators scramble to establish fiscal support for the EU it is becoming clear the suits in Brussels are not prepared to scrap their hard-won Green Deal plan. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Differing finance costs across the continent are likely to see wind-rich, high electricity demand nations such as Germany, France, Austria and Belgium forge ahead with renewables at the expense of countries with plenty of sun but where borrowing is expensive, according to a German study.
By this time next year we may be able to wave goodbye to that old chestnut about renewables endangering security of supply. Elsewhere, the price of lithium – and the products it goes into – could go either way after tanking this year.
Trade body SolarPower Europe’s preliminary statistics suggest this could be the continent’s best year for PV since 2010, with capacity additions set to soar 104% year on year. Spain is leading the way with an expected 4.7 GW of new solar, followed by Germany, with 4 GW.
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