‘A significant moment for European solar manufacturers’: EU unveils Green Deal Industrial Plan

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivering her speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. Image: European Commission.

Following months of discussion and encouragement from the European solar industry, the EU has announced a multi-pronged scheme to drive renewable energy and clean technology development, with the aim of putting the European market at the forefront of the global energy transition.

The announcement has the potential to prove a significant boon to European solar PV production.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

The Green Deal Industrial Plan was announced yesterday by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in a speech at the World Economic Forum that directly positioned the plan as a response to both the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other global renewable energy legislative commitments like the US’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“It is no secret that certain elements of the design of the Inflation Reduction Act raised a number of concerns in terms of some of the targeted incentives for companies,” she said.

Von der Leyen said that the plan will cover four key pillars: the regulatory environment, financing, skills and trade.

The first pillar will see the introduction of the Net-Zero Industry Act, which will specify goals for European clean technology by 2030 and focus on faster and simplified permitting for clean tech production and manufacturing. Clean tech projects deemed to be of Common European Interest will also see faster processing and simpler funding and accessibility.

Alongside the Net-Zero Industry Act, the Critical Raw Materials Act will aim to boost the refining, processing and recycling of rare earth metals and raw materials essential to producing renewable energy assets. Von der Leyen also said that a focus would be placed on cooperating with trade partners on sourcing, processing and production of these materials to overcome China’s dominance of supply.

“For rare earths, which are vital for manufacturing key technologies – like wind power generation, hydrogen storage or batteries – Europe is today 98% dependent on one country – China. Or take lithium. With just three countries accounting for more than 90% of the lithium production, the entire supply chain has become incredibly tight. This has pushed up prices and is threatening our competitiveness”, she said.

The second pillar of the plan as outlined by the speech will boost investment and financing for clean tech production and manufacturing. Specifically, it will temporarily alter state rules to speed up and simplify the process for EU financing for member states; von der Leyen gave the example of simple tax breaks and targeted aid for production facilities “to counter relocation risks from foreign subsidies”.

In the medium term, a European Sovereignty Fund will be prepared to boost the resources available for “upstream research, innovation and strategic industrial projects key to reaching net zero”. The scope of this fund was not clarified.

The Green Deal Industrial Plan will also develop the skill base of workers to enable the bloc’s net zero plans and establish an ambitious and robust international trade agenda to secure supply chains.

The president also highlighted that unfair trade practices that make the energy landscape uncompetitive must be addressed, specifying China’s global domination in much of renewable energy production.

The specific financial and legislative details, and the ultimate scope of the Green Deal Industrial Plan are yet to be revealed.

“The Green Deal Industrial Plan is a significant moment for European solar manufacturers. The EU is seriously acting on the concerns of the European solar sector over the last months and years,” said Dries Acke, policy director of trade body SolarPower Europe.

“We’ll need to get Europe’s 2030 solar manufacturing targets right, reflecting the strategic role of solar as the kingpin of the energy transition.”

The announcement comes after months of petition and discussion from the European solar sector. In December the European Solar Manufacturing Council called for IRA-style tactics to be implemented to shore up a European PV manufacturing base. In fact, it called for a finance vehicle akin to the Chips Act introduced to bolster Europe’s competitiveness with semiconductor technology. Von der Leyen cited the same act in her speech.

A flurry of regulatory activity regarding the solar industry has come out of the EU in recent months, most notably the inauguration of the European Solar PV Industry Alliance and amendments to the REPowerEU scheme that cut solar PV permitting times and established designated ‘go-to’ renewable energy zones.   

25 April 2024
5pm BST (9am PDT)
The webinar will provide the very latest trends in PV module supply and what is important when assessing product quality and reliability. How many of the imported modules for example, from Southeast Asia and India, are based on n-type TOPCon and heterojunction now? What is important to look at when assessing these new technologies’ reliability?
21 May 2024
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 21-22 May 2024, will be our third PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2025 and beyond.
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.

Read Next

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
April 17, 2024
Lisbon, Portugal
Solar Media Events
May 1, 2024
Dallas, Texas
Solar Media Events
May 21, 2024
Sydney, Australia