By James Watson, CEO
Last month our new President, Christian Westermeier of Wacker, outlined his vision for the association in the coming three years. Following on from the period of great change and advancement we experienced, and are thankful for, under the previous Presidency of Oliver Schaefer, we will now see a continuity in the actions and modus operandi we in SolarPower Europe take.
What does that mean in practice?
Firstly on the policy front it is clear that with the new Board we will continue and enhance our work on trade. Many of you will have already contributed to our response to the European Commission on the new Minimum Import Price (MIP) mechanism that should be implemented from September this year. The mechanism is intended to give a more accurate reflection of the price changes for modules and cells in the European market. This change is a result of our successful lobbying on the case to date and we can assure the members that we will continue our work and intensify it to bring the matter to an end as soon as possible.
We will also be working on the Clean Energy For All Package launched by the European Commission at the end of 2016 to ensure that key issues such as renewable energy targets, self-consumption, priority access/dispatch, capacity remuneration mechanisms, national binding targets and many other facets are positive for the further growth of solar in Europe post-2020. This is crucial for the sector and while we all focus on the months ahead rather than the years, what is agreed in Brussels in the next 12 months will determine whether there is a bright future for solar or not.
Secondly, we will continue to innovate and bring more services and ideas to our membership. At the end of 2014, we launched our first taskforce on O&M, two and a half years on we have task forces on everything from environmental footprint of solar to digitalisation and storage. We move with the times and the members to deliver on the opportunities of now and tomorrow. We will continue to deliver relevant and opportune services to the members and are already planning a corporate sourcing of renewables work stream to find new customers for solar power in Europe.
We will also look to new markets in the near neighbourhood and beyond for our members to gain new business opportunities. We have already taken part in missions to Algeria, Uzbekistan, Iran and met with Indian and Pakistani government representatives in Brussels. Building new solar markets with priority access for our members will increase as a focus in the coming three years.
Finally, the work we have been doing has been recognized for its excellence – we won the best networking event award at the European Association Awards. Our political and media stakeholders have given us a glowing endorsement for our work in the recent perception audit, and the members have rated is extremely well for our work in supporting them. These are trends we will continue and expect to win more awards and plaudits in the coming three years.
This is a new era for SolarPower Europe, but one where we build on the successes of the past three years and create a lasting legacy for solar in Europe.