EU has opportunity to drive global green recovery by supporting emerging solar markets

SolarPower Europe’s Emerging Markets Workstream published a position paper, “The role of solar in the Green Deal Diplomacy“, the EU Strategy with Africa and the global green recovery”, that details actionable steps for the European Commission to fulfil its role as a global leader of the energy transition. The twin crises of COVID-19 and climate change are a global problem that require global cooperation. In fact, the crises have a common solution: increasing investments and installations of renewable energy technologies. As the external pillar of the European Green Deal, ‘Green Deal Diplomacy’ involves supporting partner countries, especially emerging markets, in sustainable development, including the development of their renewable energy capacity and accelerating their energy transition. Combined with the European Commission’s communication, “Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa”, it is clear that the EU has the opportunity to drive global cooperation on climate change, as well as to lead a global green recovery. Leveraging instruments such as international sectoral partnerships, trade policy, development cooperation, development finance and crisis management can drive the energy transition in partner countries.

With robust policies in place and successful international cooperation there is the possibility of optimising the massive solar deployment in emerging markets. This is a significant economic opportunity for both partner countries and European businesses and can also contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Leading the global green recovery post-COVID-19 should be part of Green Deal Diplomacy. Renewable energy technologies, and solar in particular, offer solutions not only in the long-term, but also in the short-term, as we overcome this crisis.

Stefano Mantellassi, Vice-President Energy Solutions, Eni SpA and Chair of the Emerging Markets Workstream, said: “The COVID-19 crisis provides even more arguments in support of the vision embraced by the EU that the uptake of renewable energies at scale is the way to foster sustainable growth globally. As the crisis risks to weaken the economies of emerging markets, especially in Africa, potentially undermining ongoing efforts and reforms needed to integrate renewables, it is key for the EU to develop ambitious policies to support access to energy and a green recovery with its partner countries, where there is a huge untapped potential for renewable generation. The European solar industry is ready to do its part and contribute to deliver on such potential, which requires economic diversification as well as major investments to achieve a new energy mix and build the necessary electricity infrastructure.”

Dr Karsten Schlageter, Managing Director, ABO Wind and Vice-Chair of the Emerging Markets Workstream, said: “The European Green Deal is not only a crucial policy framework to guide the EU to climate neutrality, but also presents opportunities for Europe to drive the energy transition on a global scale. In particular, Africa has immense untapped solar potential, and the Green Deal can support access to clean energy while also benefiting Europeans. For instance, providing more focused EU facilities to de-risk investments has significant potential to change the flow of foreign direct investment to emerging markets. In the same direction, supporting local renewable industry associations by means of a dedicated EU pan-African programme can help increase demand, which is positive for the individual countries and for the entire sector.”

Máté Heisz, Head of International Cooperation at SolarPower Europe and Coordinator of the Emerging Markets Workstream, said: “The Emerging Markets Workstream aims to bring attention to the market opportunities presented by countries with untapped solar potential. Through trade policy, development finance, and technical cooperation, the EU can support partner countries’ energy transition and green recovery efforts, while at the same time helping the European renewable industry to grow by opening new market opportunities and by the reducing risk of direct investment. The EU’s commitment to ‘Green Deal Diplomacy’ makes it well-suited to drive the global climate and energy transition.”

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