Renewables

Governments, firms pledge support for solar manufacturing with EU Solar Charter

Governments firms pledge support for solar manufacturing EU Solar Charter

Photo: Andrewglaser / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode.en

Published

April 17, 2024

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Published:

April 17, 2024

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Energy ministers from 23 European Union member states and a hundred representatives of the European solar sector have signed the European Solar Charter. It is a commitment from governments and companies to support solar manufacturing and reindustrialize the sector.

Similar to the European Wind Charter, signed in December, the new EU Solar Charter promotes mechanisms that companies and the governments of member countries can provide to back the industry of photovoltaic equipment. The big difference is that domestic solar manufacturing is dwindling fast, under the pressure from cheap imports from China and more attractive subsidies in the United States.

On the other hand, the situation does affect the wind power sector as well. Both count on support given their strategic role in decarbonization and the future of the electricity system. It was determined with the Green Deal Industrial Plan and subsequent EU legislation.

The administration in Brussels is reluctant to impose barriers on equipment from China as it may significantly slow down the solar boom. Instead it is developing stricter rules, but the system is yet to be completed.

Governments made high-level promise to manufacturers in EU Solar Charter

The EU Solar Charter was signed at an informal meeting of energy ministers in Brussels. All governments except Sweden, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta signed the document, as did one hundred representatives of the photovoltaics sector.

“Solar in Europe has skyrocketed in recent years. Building on the 2022 EU Solar Strategy, the EU Solar Charter reinforces the reality that solar PV is now a mainstream energy technology. Europe, and the world, is banking on solar to guide us out of the climate and energy crisis towards a new era of green prosperity and security,” Chief Executive Officer of SolarPower Europe Walburga Hemetsberger said at the event.

Governments made a high-level promise to solar manufacturers, recognizing their critical role in the strategic supply chains, she pointed out.

“Nevertheless, we continue to urge rapid action and concrete measures at national and EU level to support manufacturers. This means rolling out resilience criteria in public procurement and auctions as soon as possible, unlocking subsidy support, and establishing dedicated EU financing for solar,” Hemetsberger added.

She also highlighted the threat from grid and permitting delays.

Two thirds of photovoltaic capacity installed in 2023 is on roofs

The charter includes a call to companies and member countries to include PV products in portfolios of relevant market players and incorporate resilience considerations in PV offtakers’ procurement strategies, as voluntary measures.

They should also commit to maintaining and, where possible, expanding the production capacity in Europe, the document reads. It proposes special support for innovative solar power concepts such as agri-PV (agrisolar or agrivoltaics) and floating solar as well as infrastructure-, vehicle- and building-integrated photovoltaics.

“Last year, 56 GW of solar PV were installed in the EU, two thirds of it on rooftops, empowering consumers and protecting them from high electricity prices and reducing land use. The installations in 2022 and 2023 saved the equivalent of 15 billion cubic meters of Russian gas imports in total, mitigating the risk of disruption of gas supplies to the Union. In addition, the sector provides around 650.000 jobs, 90% of these on the deployment side, and is projected to increase until around 1.000.000 by 2030,” according to the charter.

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