EU’s ‘Green Deal’ needs solar manufacturing strategy, say trade bodies

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Dr Peter Fath, Managing Director of RCT Solutions GmbH and Chairman of the Board of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment, commented: “European solar PV production can be profitable. A recent study from VDMA together with the German solar research institute Fraunhofer ISE, shows that solar PV manufacturing in Europe and Germany can be highly competitive if the size of the production fab is appropriate. Image: Fraunhofer ISE

There needs to be a comprehensive industrial strategy for the solar industry located in the EU as part of the pending release of the EU’s own ‘Green Deal’ strategy, according to German manufacturing trade group VDMA (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) and solar trade association, SolarPower Europe.

Dr Jutta Trube, Vice Managing Director Electronics, Micro and New Energy Production Technologies & Division Manager Photovoltaic Equipment at VDMA, said: “Solar PV energy generation is one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity in Europe and in many parts of the world, and in the near future it will be the largest power generation source. As a clean and scalable technology, it is in a perfect position to deliver the European Green Deal. In fact, Europe has a long history when it comes to solar, as it was European research institutes and developers that led the world in solar innovation. To safeguard Europe’s security of energy supply and ensure energy self-sufficiency, we need to strengthen the industrial capacity of European solar manufacturers. An industrial strategy for solar is thus of critical strategic importance for a green Europe.”

Dr Peter Fath, Managing Director of RCT Solutions GmbH and Chairman of the Board of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment, commented: “European solar PV production can be profitable. A recent study from VDMA together with the German solar research institute Fraunhofer ISE, shows that solar PV manufacturing in Europe and Germany can be highly competitive if the size of the production fab is appropriate. To further boost solar manufacturing in Europe, a comprehensive and EU-wide industrial strategy for solar must be implemented. As European solar equipment manufacturers, we at VDMA are ready to contribute to the EU’s energy and climate targets.”

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “The European Commission’s industrial policy represents a unique opportunity for the solar industry. With a new industrial strategy for solar, the EU can take global leadership on the existing and next generation of solar technologies, manufacturing, and services. A recent JRC study found that the European manufacturing chain could increase its competitiveness with an annual gigawatt production volume. With an industrial strategy in place we can make this happen and create sustainable high-tech jobs at companies that will be able to benefit from Europe’s world-leading solar research centres.”

The majority of solar related research institutes have already aligned in pushing for adequate R&D funding required for the Green Deal to be effective. R&D centres are also dependent the rebirth of the solar manufacturing sector that includes the complete upstream supply chain, something that has been eroded significantly since China has come to dominate more than 70% of the manufacturing sector. 

There was a noticeable number of European Commission employees and advisors that attended EU PVSEC last September, soon after the new Commission had been announced. 

The hope is that policies put in place in the Green Deal will re-boot PV manufacturing in the EU and provide the lowest carbon footprint for a major increase in downstream PV installations. 

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