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An alliance between solar power and gas could bring the PV industry to the level playing field with traditional energy sources that the sector has dreamed of since its inception, an animated Björn Emde, communications manager from Suntech, told the audience of the 9th European PV Industry Summit at EU PVSEC this afternoon.
Although Fabrice Didier, CEO of Saint-Gobain Solar, making a point of not sugar-coating his words, demanded competitiveness and credibility from his peers, to save an industry in despair, Emde provided an unconventional solution.
Didier pointed out that the lack of investment in the PV industry this year demonstrates that companies need to “face reality” and come up with a comprehensive and realistic road map to show investors that they will achieve a return on their investment.
Emde told the audience that a lack in realistic storage solutions has stopped investors in their tracks. The PV industry now needs to take a brave step and forge relationships with other energy sectors. Emde stated that the industry needs to “dance with the devil” and gas is the lesser of two evils. He listed companies like Total, which has shares in Sunpower and British Petroleum and Shell that have already made the move to solar PV.
Emde concurred that the reliability of PV technology needs to be communicated to potential financiers and policymakers in order to guarantee a long solar lifetime.
A representative from SolarWorld confronted the speakers by stating that the obvious solution to the European PV solar crisis would be the exit of Chinese manufacturers. Emde retorted, how can one company cause so much chaos and not be “red-faced” about it? He continued that SolarWorld’s short-sightedness reduces the industry’s credibility for the electorate as well as politicians.
As highlighted by Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, president of EREC, at the beginning of the conference, European governments are implementing a “speed limit for renewables”. The industry needs credibility to convince politicians that a PV policy will not be a drain on the economy.