Demand for Europe-made PV production systems up 62% as European demand surpasses Asia

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A third of all sales of European PV equipment were for module production in Q2. Image: Solar World

Demand for European-made PV production equipment jumped by 62% in Q2 2022, with European orders surpassing those from Asian countries for the first time, according to research by engineering industry association VDMA.

European manufacturers saw sales of their PV engineering systems rise 62% on Q1, with sales in Europe soaring by a factor of four. Similarly, European orders received in the first two quarters of 2022 have already exceeded the value of total European orders in 2021. And VDMA is expecting this sales growth to continue into Q3.

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A third of sales are attributable to systems for module production, said VDMA, which has been compiling such statistics since 2008.

“In the past, the Asian market was the largest for German PV production machines and system manufacturers, but orders in Europe have increased since the first quarter of 2022 and are expected to continue to increase,” said Jutta Trube, VDMA’s department head for Photovoltaic Production Equipment.

“Generally we expect to continue to see strong demand as various countries show increasing interest in new local PV production.”

Indeed, Europe, like the US and India, has been very explicit in its desire to establish a regional PV manufacturing base. However, while the US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) looks set to turbocharge solar manufacturing and with India aiming to add 65GW of PV module manufacturing capacity through an extended incentive scheme, Europe is yet to announce a production strategy as coherent and well funded.

PV Tech Premium has reported how European solar PV manufacturers struggling with soaring electricity prices have flagged concerns that the continent is falling behind the US and India in terms of policy support for the sector.

“Currently countries like USA and India are introducing very attractive initiatives to boost PV production; the same is required in Europe,” said Peter Fath, managing director of RCT Solutions and chairman of the VDMA Photovoltaic Production Equipment department. 

“An increase in initiatives in Europe and the political will to establish PV production in the entire value chain, are an opportunity for the further use of PV production resources in the EU.” 

The CEOs of companies such as First Solar, BayWa r.e. and Meyer Burger have written to the European Commission (EC) to call for urgent action to support the redevelopment of European PV manufacturing.

On the same day, the EC formally endorsed a new Solar Photovoltaic Industry Alliance, with the aim of scaling up the manufacturing of innovative PV products and components.

Despite the strong demand statistics outlined by VDMA, European solar manufacturing is at increasing risk from high energy prices, with Maxeon forced to shutter one of its module facilities in France.

Around 35GW of PV manufacturing projects in Europe are at risk of being mothballed as elevated power prices damage the continent’s efforts to build a solar supply chain, research from Rystad Energy said.  

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