French bid to revive EU PV makers draws praise, scepticism

Experts appeared split on whether PV manufacturing can create the highly paid, quality jobs Europeans want (Credit: Flickr / Dmitry Dzhus)

France’s success odds with a plan to re-energise European PV manufacturing remain a divisive topic for solar experts, PV Tech found as part of a yet-to-be-published feature.

Conversations for an article in the upcoming PV Tech Power issue revealed mixed feelings for a new government roadmap, seeking to bring back upstream “champions” within 10 years.

Dr. Andreas W. Bett, director of Fraunhofer ISE, said he was “very pleased” to see Paris spearhead a comeback of European manufacturers, now majorly outcompeted by Chinese rivals.

“Europe lost the battle in the past but there’s a second race coming. We looked recently at the figures and saw cost differences with Asia are now very, very small,” Bett argued.  

The director admitted European manufacturing will need scale and an entire supply chain to keep up with Asia. “If we’re not competitive, we’ll have a political dependency on imports,” he said.

Jenny Chase of BloombergNEF was more sceptical. “I don’t think it makes sense to manufacture in Europe … it doesn’t necessarily create the high-tech jobs Europeans want,” the solar analyst argued.

“If people put enough money into it then you can probably do it but solar manufacturing is a pretty tough business to be in…Half the firms I’ve ever written about have gone bankrupt,” Chase added.

At various degrees, the experts agreed that environmentally-friendly products, R&D and a partial refocus on battery making are all avenues European makers can explore to gain advantage.

Bett noted the strong policy support EU battery specialists already enjoy – which he linked to car makers – while Chase said batteries' complexity creates more potential for highly paid jobs than with PV.

The full story, featuring the views of Fraunhofer ISE, BNEF and others, will be part of PV Tech Power’s Volume 20, scheduled for publication around September 2019. Subscribe for free now

14 September 2022
Join us in London for 2 days as we look at the UK’s new landscape for utility & rooftop solar. Understand the new opportunities within this GW-plus annual market!
29 November 2022
PV ModuleTech EMEA in Madrid on 29-30 November 2022 will address the factors underpinning the changing PV module landscape, gathering together all the key stakeholders across the value-chain from module production to field testing. Join us for presentations from the leading players in the sector, clearly identifying the opportunities and challenges set to impact module supply to Europe and the Middle-East over the next few years.

Read Next

August 8, 2022
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes US$369 billion in energy security and climate change programmes over the next ten years, passed in the US Senate on Sunday, paving the way for its movement to the House of Representatives and subsequent signing by President Joe Biden.
August 2, 2022
The building-integrated PV (BIPV) market is expected to reach US$94.4 billion by 2031, up from US$11.7 billion recorded in 2021.
July 26, 2022
US module manufacturer Universal Solar is developing a module manufacturing plant in Panama with an initial capacity of 600MW, targeting supply lines disrupted by policy headwinds.
July 25, 2022
Renewables developer Ørsted has entered into an agreement with German developer Ostwind to acquire 100% of its equity interest.
July 21, 2022
Nearly 40GW of solar PV will be rolled out across Europe by the end of the year, according to SolarPower Europe (SPE), as the continent scrambles to deploy renewables and wean itself off Russian gas.
July 18, 2022
JA Solar is forecasting to ship as much as 40GW of modules this year as it expects its n-type cell capacity expansion to deliver next year.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 7, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
September 14, 2022
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event