Solar-Powering EU Energy Independence

Sustainable energy security is key for the European Union’s well-being. The Russian invasion of Ukraine undoubtedly demonstrates that the EU can no longer rely on fossil fuel imports. Europe must urgently develop alternative energy sources.
© European Union 2021
Climate crisis flooding in Northern Europe

The continent is facing war and geopolitical instability at a time when the climate emergency grows ever more
intense. From the floods of Germany, to the fires of Greece, Europe is experiencing record high temperatures
during winter, and increasingly extreme weather events in summer. All this while Europeans emerge from a
global pandemic, already struggling to manage gas-driven soaring energy prices.

 

Refocussing Europe’s energy policy, and deploying massive volumes of renewables in the European Union, as soon as possible, is critical to our stability, security, and prosperity.


Investments are already flowing in Europe: in 2021, solar grew by 34% year-on-year to add about 26 GW of generation capacity, reaching a cumulative EU solar capacity of 165 GW. That’s 136% more than the 11 GW added by the EU’s No. 2, wind power. That’s more than all other new renewable, fossil fuel, and nuclear capacities combined in 2021. 

 

This paper sets out exactly what solar power can deliver for the EU's climate goals in the short-, medium-, and long-term. Ten flagship solar-supporting initiatives, through eight key actions, will build the necessary foundations for the European solar terawatt age. 

Additional EU solar PV capacity in 2022 under an accelerated high scenario
Total

39

GW

Rooftop

23.3

GW

Utility-scale

15.7

GW

We must point Europe’s compass to solar terawatt scale by 2030. A pre-war business-as-usual (BAU) scenario shows that 672 GW of solar PV will be deployed in 2030. This was already higher than the figures in the impact assessment of the Fit for 55 proposal, and this is still higher than the RePowerEU ambition.

Eight Actions to prepare for the solar terawatt age

Accelerate the deployment of projects

In the short-term, we can accelerate existing projects already in the pipeline to ensure completion by end of 2022, identify go-to areas for additional solar & storage projects, and set a clear EU-level target for 100 GW of solar PV deployment per year from 2025.

 

In the medium-term, we should develop scientific evidence & citizen awareness of the benefits of solar, share biodiversity best-practice among local stakeholders, launch structured dialogue between energy, environment and agriculture authorities, and through the JRC, map land available for solar plants.

 

 

1

Connect and integrate solar projects into the grid

In the short-term, we can suspend grid connection costs between 2022-24, develop a framework for grid-friendly solar projects (solar and storage, hybrid renewables), and launch a dedicated support programme for such projects.

 

In the medium-term, we can reduce permitting process duration, increase the open data obligations from TSOs and DSOs on the grid structure, and develop an EU-level roadmap on grid modernisation and flexibility development, including at distributed level.

 

2

Develop the skills & workforce needed to deploy solar projects

In the short-term we can give clear signals to the electrical and mechanical installers industry by mandating solar
panels on all rooftops and banning the installation of new gas and oil boilers.

 

In the medium-term we can launch a Skills Initiative for the solar PV industrial ecosystem, as foreseen in the European
Skills Agenda, including communication campaigns and structured co-operation between authorities, industry, and educators. An effective Solar Skills Initiative will include funding for training programmes, the inclusion of solar in national apprenticeship programmes, and targeted cooperation with EU neighbouring states for skilled labour movement.

 

3

Deploy integrated solar PV applications

such as agrisolar, floating solar, and building-integrated PV. 

 

 

In the medium-term we can create a flagship initiative on innovative PV deployment, gathering evidence on the benefits of floating PV and agrisolar, as well as a database of incidents, identify O&M solutions, create models for OPEX costs, define impacts on deliverability. We could also launch a BIPV Strategy as part of the Solar Industrial Strategy, building on the New European Bauhaus initiative. 

 

 

4

Secure supply chains and access to raw materials

In the medium-term we should develop a comprehensive analysis of the raw materials needed in the solar PV industry,
building on the preliminary work of the European Raw Materials Industry and ensuring an involvement of the industry. This exercise should focus in particular on silicon metal, silver, aluminium, and copper.

5

Reinvest in domestic manufacturing

In the short-term, like the Chips Fund, we should launch a €1 bn Solar Fund to leverage private investment. We should also set a target to close financing on shovel-ready projects within 6 months, define & implement sustainability criteria to create a level playing field among PV products, and eliminate EU trade barriers to facilitate access to necessary components and raw materials.

6

Boost the deployment of rooftop solar PV during the renovation wave

In the short-term we have the opportunity to launch an EU Solar Rooftop initiative to frontload investments into 23.3 GW of rooftop solar PV by the end of 2022, while easing State Aid approval procedures to allow member states to grant short term, ambitious public support for renovation and solar deployment.

 

In the medium-term we could develop a massive awareness-raising campaign on renovation and rooftop PV development, and an adequate regulatory framework, through the revision and the subsequent implementation of the EPBD and the REDII.

 

7

Fit for prosumers: Develop an enabling framework for consumer-driven solar

In the short-term we should ensure rooftop PV deployment is accompanied with the deployment of energy system
management and local battery storage, to make rooftop PV prosumer-ready or flexibility-ready.

 

In the medium term, we could identify best practices in prosumer frameworks development and develop a forum for
the sharing of such practices, define an action plan for the development of consumer solar PV solutions, and leverage the revision of NECPs to require national prosumer strategies from European governments.

 

 

 

 

 

8
The position paper was presented to EU Energy Commissioner, Kadri Simson, by European solar CEOs in Brussels on 30 March 2022
© SolarPower Europe 2022

Raising Solar Ambition for EU Energy Independence

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