As part of a plan to ensure the future competitiveness of the European-based PV industry, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) is pushing ahead with efforts to coordinate the collection of €1.235 billion in R&D funding with support from the EU. The funds would be used to support various programs over the next three years. The EPIA said that almost 60% of the required funding would be provided by the industry whereas the remaining amount would need to be provided by the European Commission and EU Member States. Sixteen Member States have expressed their commitment to support the PV industry, according to the trade association.
The EPIA wants to use the European SET Plan Conference, being held this week in Madrid under the current Spanish EU Presidency to urge support of the Solar Europe Industry Initiative (SEII).
The SEII is designed to enable the optimization of PV production processes that are aimed at cost reduction as well as improving the interface between the electricity grid and PV systems.
Other parts of the initiative include further development of Building Integrated PV (BIPV) products and applications that make installation cheaper and easier. Also targeted is CPV technology with an emphasis still on demonstrating its capabilities in the field. On a longer-term basis work is needed on organic solar cells and smart module development for easier network integration.
“R&D is not sufficient alone and has no impact on competitiveness if it is not accompanied by an increase in volumes and market development. The 40% price decrease in 2009 and 50% in the last two years confirm that political support is still needed to reach economies of scale by increasing production.” noted Virgilio Navarro, Vice President of EPIA and CEO of ATERSA.
The funding support is said to needed to be able to supply 12% of the EU demand for electricity by 2020, using PV technologies.