In answer to the current electricity price crisis, driven primarily by extremely high global gas prices, the European Commission has published its ‘toolbox’ to guide member states’ response. The guidance includes immediate measures to protect consumers and businesses, notably through supporting their access to renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Medium-term measures aim to accelerate the transition to an energy system with a high share of renewables and reiterate existing proposals on the acceleration of permitting for new projects.
During a press conference outlining the details of the toolbox Commissioner Kadri Simson also noted the need to develop energy storage capacity to support the increasing role of renewables.
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “The current electricity price hike is a wake-up call that we must fast-track the transition to 100% renewable electricity systems. As the lowest cost and most versatile energy source, today solar is already insulating millions of Europeans from price shocks. According to our calculations, households with existing solar installations are saving around 60% on their monthly electricity bills during this electricity price crisis.”
Hemetsberger adds, “Several member states have already made the commitment to move to 100% renewable electricity systems, and grid operators have demonstrated that this is possible. Member states must launch dedicated tenders and establish the right price signals for solar and storage projects, while implementing ambitious innovation policies to deploy the technologies we need in our grids.”
Claire Couet, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe said: “Solar PPAs protect European industries against price volatility. We’ll see this demonstrated this week in Amsterdam at RE-Source 2021, where corporate buyers will match with clean energy suppliers, to support their move to cheaper, more reliable energies. The Commission’s proposed flanking measures to support the development of PPAs are very positive and must be deployed fast.”
Couet continues, “Accelerating the expansion of solar will not only bring reliable, clean energy, it can triple the number of solar jobs to over 1 million in 2030. Solar jobs present the enormous opportunity to reskill declining industries and revitalise local economies, positioning solar as a deep contributor to the just transition. Solar is uniquely placed to fight energy poverty – installing solar panels on vulnerable households can offer immediate relief and invigorate struggling communities.
Michael Schmela, Head of Market Intelligence said: “Despite the continued impact of COVID-19, and modest forecasts, newly installed solar power in the European Union increased by around 17% to nearly 20 GW in 2020 – the second-best ever increase for the sector. This year we foresee that the solar growth rate will be even higher. To fulfil the tremendous potential of solar, we need to address the obstacles limiting investments in commercial and industrial solar PV systems, such as the inclusion in tendering procedures.”
Photo: © Ernst Schweizer