The European Green Deal is a potential game-changer for Europe. Committing to a climate-neutral economy is a unique opportunity to create new, qualified and local jobs, support the competitiveness of EU businesses, and accelerate investments in innovation and clean energy technologies to secure Europe’s industrial leadership.
Solar power unites Europe’s aim to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 with the need to shape a Green Deal for European cities, citizens and businesses. Solar, as the lowest-cost and most easily deployed clean energy, is ready to play a leading role in delivering the European Green Deal.
7 Solar Solutions to Power the European Green Deal
Solar power is ready to take a key role in delivering the European Green Deal, securing ambition, a just and fair transition, and ensuring Europe’s security of supply. To fully tap into the potential of the seven solar solutions outlined below, the mobilisation of substantial public and private investment will be paramount. The European Green Deal and upcoming legislation on Sustainable Finance will play a critical role in leveraging these funds and guaranteeing that future investments are directed towards solar and other technologies and assets that will support Europe’s carbon neutrality and industrial leadership in clean energy.
Delivering solar industrial leadership
Solar manufacturing should be strengthened as a cornerstone of the European green economy and has to be a major element in Europe’s Industrial Strategy. The solar sector must be established as a strategic value chain in order to both ensure Europe’s security of supply and deliver industrial leadership in clean energy technologies. Supporting the large-scale industrial deployment of existing innovative, European, renewable technologies will be key.
We propose a mandate for solar to be installed on all new and renovated residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in the EU. Currently 90% of European rooftops are unused and fitting this space with solar offers the potential to save up to 7 million tonnes of CO2 each year, producing at least 680 TWh of clean electricity supply.
Transitioning former coal regions to solar
Coal regions can greatly benefit by transitioning to solar – with huge untapped solar potential, they are attractive business environments for solar deployment and manufacturing. The EU Platform for Coal Regions in Transition must work with the Clean Energy Industrial Forum to foster synergies between solar industrial policy and a just transition.
Providing skills and training programmes to support the energy transition
It is a priority to adapt the EU Skills Agenda in order to facilitate European solar jobs across key sectors and avoid bottlenecks. With the proper regulatory framework, solar could create at least 500,000 highly skilled jobs by 2030, and 1.7 million by 2050 in Europe alone.
Unlocking the potential of flexible large-scale solar installations
Solar is a flexible and reliable technology that can provide valuable flexibility services to the grid, more accurately than conventional technologies. The potential of large-scale solar installations to support the transmission grid is largely untapped in Europe, therefore, it is urgent to remove existing barriers to their deployment, such as size caps in public tenders.
Accelerating solar-powered mobility
Solar is highly versatile and can be directly connected to most charging infrastructure, delivering truly sustainable electric mobility. As solar’s highest generation capacity occurs during traditional working hours, it is a particularly attractive option for charging facilities located in public and commercial buildings as well as working spaces. We must ensure that appropriate infrastructure is in place to facilitate the roll-out of solar-powered electric vehicles; including personal cars, trucks, trams, and buses.
Prioritising renewable-based electrification of the European economy and developing truly renewable hydrogen
In the short term, the renewable-based electrification of our building, transport, and power sectors is the most cost-efficient way to decarbonise the European economy and can already contribute significantly to reaching the EU energy and climate targets. Solar-based solutions in particular are very appealing because of their unique versatility and ability to provide direct renewable electricity to homes, public buildings, farms, businesses, carports and charging stations,to name a few. By 2050, renewable-based gases will be necessary to fully deliver the European Green Deal, especially for difficult-to-decarbonise sectors, such as energy-intensive industries and heavy transportation. In only 10 years, the price of solar panels has dropped by more than 96%, making solar a cost-effective electricity supply for hydrogen production. In order to produce renewable hydrogen, the sector requires political commitment and a regulatory framework to end new investments in conventional generation and redirect all available financing away from fossil fuels to deliver a truly renewable hydrogen economy.