By Dr Christian Westermeier, President of SolarPower Europe
I am honoured to have been elected President of SolarPower Europe at his most crucial and exciting time for solar. We are in the midst of paving the way for solar to be the leading energy source in Europe and the World. As you will all know, these are uncertain times for solar in Europe, as we face many challenges. Yet I am in no doubt that the 21st century belongs to solar power.
I have witnessed the astounding growth of solar during my 23 years at Wacker Chemie, one of the world’s largest producers of polysilicon. I have also had the pleasure to see the incredible transformation of SolarPower Europe, as I have been a member of the Board for four years. Since the association’s rebrand 2 years ago, reputation has improved, membership has doubled and we have hosted award-winning events. Now it is about taking this to the next level and working even harder to tackle the challenges facing European solar.
During the past 5 years the European solar industry has endured harmful trade measures, these must be ended within the next 18 months to allow European solar businesses and consumers to take advantage of clean and affordable solar. We also have to make sure the European Commission’s “Clean Energy for All” package delivers a framework for solar to thrive in Europe post 2020. This will mean making sure we get the right electricity market design for our technology, as solar and renewables should be given the conditions to thrive.
If we can get that right for Europe, solar will grow because there are so many opportunities, like new markets across the world and complementary technologies like storage, smart buildings, electromobility and digitalisation, all advancing the development of solar. With this array of new possibilities, comes the need to deepen SolarPower Europe’s engagement with all stakeholders, new and old, willing to build a solar-powered future.
Solar makes economic and environmental sense, yet in 2016 Europe installed just 7 GW of solar. Europe needs a solar renaissance and that is why we have launched an industrial strategy for solar and clean tech industries in Europe. SolarPower Europe will work with the European Commission to implement this plan of action which aims to deliver the growth of our sector in terms of installations, jobs and wealth creation.
I am optimistic and excited for the future. I truly believe that solar will be the leading energy source in Europe, and so we roll up our sleeves to make this happen. Thank you to all the members for putting your trust in me to lead the Board of our association at this crucial time. I am looking forward to the next three years of delivering on my mandate for SolarPower Europe.