#MakeSolarEU: FuturaSun's role in reshoring solar manufacturing to Europe

by Thérèse O Donoghue - 2 April 2024
The European solar manufacturing landscape is at a critical crossroads. Excess demand, combined with overcapacity on the supply side, has resulted in a record drop in prices for solar modules and other system components. Two things can be true; Europe needs to be part of a globalised solar supply chain to meet climate targets, and we must work harder to support European solar manufacturing.

SolarPower Europe is working to rebuild solar manufacturing in Europe. Why does solar manufacturing matter? Why aren't there more solar manufacturers in Europe? How do we bring solar manufacturing back to Europe?

In the #MakeSolarEU blog series, we showcase the reality and potential of EU solar manufacturing, by interviewing some of Europe’s most important, and innovative manufacturing companies. 


Our series continues with FuturaSun; we sat down with FuturaSun’s CEO Alessandro Barin, to talk about the state-of-play of the European solar manufacturing landscape and the importance of developing the EU’s research and innovation base.

1. Could you give us a history of FuturaSun, and talk about what you build?

FuturaSun was established in 2008 in Veneto, Italy. Our headquarters are located in Cittadella, in the Padua Province. This is where we began. Today we sell our solar modules in over 70 countries, and have achieved double-digit sales growth year on year. 


We specialise in the production of high-performance solar modules

Photo: Ineu Lipova, Romania, utility-scale with FuturaSun panels © FuturaSun

2. Where do you build?

In terms of European manufacturing, we’re looking into it right now. Currently, we don’t have a physical site where we’re making panels here in Europe. We do have a physical site in China, which we have had for quite a few years now. 


In Europe, we have a plan to start building a new factory shortly; we bought the land last year in Northern Italy. It’s going to be close to our headquarters in the Padua Province.

Photo: Ineu Lipova, Romania © FuturaSun

3. How many solar modules do you currently build, and how many do you plan to build at your new factory in Italy?

Currently, we’re building 1.2 GW of solar modules per year. We expect to produce a hundreds of MW of modules at our new factory in Italy. We are a European company, so we want to manufacture solar panels in Europe, but initially produce on a smaller scale.

4. How many new jobs will your factory create?

The final plan with our large GW scale factory in the EU, is to create more than 250 direct jobs plus more than 300 indirect jobs.


5. Why is building solar systems in Europe important? What do we need from politicians to make it happen?

The European Union should focus on helping the industry to rebuild, and in particular focus on developing its research and development (R&D) base.


You need to invest in manufacturing research, you need to make sure that European companies have access to funds, it doesn’t have to be hundreds of millions of Euros. Companies can use money to have a running R&D department even at a smaller scale.


Financial instruments like the Innovation Fund have to be easy to access; currently they are not. Right now, the road to accessing funds is complicated, intimidating and doesn’t make much sense.


With a strong R&D base in Europe, we can scale-up solar manufacturing.

Photo: Roof system 10.5 kWp – ZEBRA PV Modules All Black in Serbia © FuturaSun

6. What do you see as the main opportunities and challenges for FuturaSun?

I don’t see any problems with FuturaSun’s approach; solar and renewables in general are the only way to go to save our planet. The fossil fuel industry will put obstacles in our way to achieving the energy transition. This is the struggle that the whole industry and FuturaSun are going through, dealing  with the highs and lows of the market, and operating with different policies in different countries.


Ultimately, people want to buy solar panels made in Europe. We want to enter this market, and start building up some capacity. 

7. Is the US Inflation Reduction Act(IRA) something that concerns you?

It doesn’t concern me; it simply cannot be replicated in Europe because of the nature of the European Union, and how it’s structured. 

8. What is your long-term vision and plan for the future 2024, 2030 and beyond?

FuturaSun will focus on consolidating some upstream operations, and on increasing our R&D and manufacturing capacity here in Europe. We have gifted solar researchers in Italy, and across the EU. 


My responsibility as an entrepreneur is to involve those talented people, and ensure that they’re not just researching, but that this research become scaled-up, larger production.


It’s important for FuturaSun to contribute to European manufacturing, having our headquarters in Italy, making panels here, and expanding our R&D capacity.


For us, it’s still strategic to have our production plant in China, while building our new factory in Italy where we have our headquarters. It’s the supply chain that we want to build. 

9. Can Europe build 30 GW of solar equipment, every year by 2030?

We need to start from somewhere, it doesn’t need to be 30 GW the first year. You can build  30 GW with 3 or 4 factories, but I don’t think you need to do that. You can have 50 factories, and you can build 30 GW between these factories.


However it’s important to keep in mind that this number is not big. In 2023, the world installed over 400 GW of solar.


It’s not a complicated thing to do, but we should do it in the European way. We should not be looking at China and replicating their model.

Header image:  Alessandro Barin, CEO of FuturaSun © FuturaSun