All about solar powered buildings in the European Parliament 

By Christophe Arnaud, Policy Advisor

It was a full room for the breakfast event in the European Parliament on 7 June, where policy-makers and experts came together to discuss renewables and smart buildings.

MEP Sean Kelly, EPP shadow rapporteur on the renewable energy directive spoke about how smart buildings play a key role in the energy transition, and will increase self-consumption of renewable energy. Referring to the discussions on a renewable energy target for 2030, he emphasised the need to send a clear message to investors in renewables in order to avoid unpredictability, and its related impact on the cost-effectiveness of the energy transition. "There is huge potential to develop building integrated solar across Europe", listen to his message here.

David Muller, Global Head of Strategic Marketing at MERCK and SolarPower Europe BIPV Task Force leader, pointed to the fact that buildings are responsible for 40% of the CO2 emissions in Europe. Net zero energy buildings are one of the most powerful drivers to reach CO2 emissions goals and building integrated solar is essential to reach this objective.

'If we put solar and building integrated PV on every suitable roof across the EU we could meet 32% of European electricity demand' said Muller. He added that the current framework, and most notably the cost-optimal methodology for the energy performance of buildings tends to put aside innovative technologies in buildings such as building-integrated photovoltaics, which is preventing the development of markets for these European products.

Ann-Cathrin Ronsch, Policy Officer at the European Builders Confederation, added another dimension to the debate, namely, the opportunities for jobs and SMEs in the energy transition. In a strong energy renovation market, evidence suggests that up to 19 jobs may be created in construction per 1 million invested, said Ronsch.

Christophe Arnaud, Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe, spoke about the optimisation potential of renewables generation and self-consumption. He pointed to the major benefits of load shaving for the cost-effectiveness of the electricity system, and of incentivising new business models such as collective consumption for consumer empowerment. He emphasised how the Clean Energy for All package can allow for such developments, notably through framed charges and network tariffs regulation, and open market access for flexibility providers. Arnaud concluded by calling for a future-oriented approach for buildings where renewables generation is considered on an equal footing with energy efficiency and smart demand.

The panel debate provoked a lively discussion, kicking off with MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, shadow rapporteur for the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive who shared her view on the current challenges, and mentioned the high potential of office buildings in bringing ambition towards a decarbonised building stock. Bertrand Deprez, VP EU Government Affairs at Schneider Electric, raised the need for increasing the energy renovation rate of buildings. The discussion continued with an exchange between all the panelists on the need for a more balanced approach between technologies, on the job creation potential, as well as the level of the renewables target.

After the concluding remarks from the moderator Alexandre Roesch, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe, the participants of the conference were invited to see the cutting-edge building-integrated photovoltaics samples brought in for the occasion - a great hit with the audience!

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