PV sector urged to turn up volume ahead of key Paris climate talks

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A leading figure in European PV technology research has urged the global solar industry to pull together to make itself heard at the COP 21 climate change talks in Paris later this year.

Professor Wim Sinke, head of the solar programme at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), said the sector needed to speak “with one voice” about what PV has to offer negotiators looking to break the deadlock on a legally binding climate agreement.

Sinke, who is also chair of the of the European Photovoltaic Technology Platform, was speaking at a symposium on collaborative European PV research held last week at France’s national solar institute, INES, in Chambery.

Sinke said he believed there was little chance of the sector influencing “to any extent” the COP 21 meeting. “But at least the information that is on the table with the different groups and negotiators should be according to the latest insights into what is possible,” Sinke added. “We must speak with one voice. And it should be very clear what the PV sector has to offer, otherwise we will not be taken into consideration.”

But Philippe Malbranche, incoming director general of INES, said PV still suffered from having a relatively low profile among policy makers.

“We have the feeling that a lot of [the COP negotiating] documents are being prepared and are almost finalised. It’s very difficult…in France when you ask ministry of energy, ministry of industry, they just don’t know PV. That’s a problem in some countries,” Malbranche said.

Greg Arrowsmith, policy officer at EUREC, an association representing European renewable energy research bodies, said the continent’s solar and wind trade organisations such as the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) would have a presence in Paris, as they had done at previous climate summits.

“From what I understand, EPIA is also going to be present at the Paris [summit]. I understand that as part of their presence in Paris they will be holding side events or partaking in promotional activity to make sure PV’s profile is very visible.”

Sinke concluded: “Personally I think they [policy makers] will find out having global CO2 agreements to any let’s say meaningful extent will be very difficult if not impossible. So they will look at technologies to a large extent as a kind of bottom up solution, which is already happening in several countries. That may help strengthen the position of renewables and PV.”

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