Solar Cities and Regions: Cities boosting industry

by Thérèse O Donoghue - 12 October 2023
With three quarters of the European population living in urban areas, the bulk of energy consumption is happening in cities' territory – around 80% in the European Union. The number of people living in cities is constantly growing, and so is city demand for sustainable electricity, transport, heating, and cooling.

Cities are at the frontline of the energy transition. Solar is one of the key solutions to support cities in reducing their energy-related emissions and providing access to cheap, reliable energy for all! Furthermore, cities offer lots of rooftops and building space for solar PV to be placed, vital to ensuring Europe meets its energy and climate ambitions.


Ultimately, solar can support cities, and cities can support solar.

In this blog series, we will highlight 21 solar solutions for cities in the energy transition, starting off with how solar can help drive city climate and energy security goals. Below you can read solutions 20 and 21 in our series. You can find solutions 1-19 in our previous blog posts.

Solar PV is a local technology by nature: from the design of the project to the installation, the operation, the maintenance, and recycling. Most of the value chain remains European. Nevertheless, most of the PV panels are currently built outside Europe, and rebuilding the European solar manufacturing industry is a priority for the European Commission, and for the solar PV sector. 


Also, the solar industry is rapidly expanding, and there is a growing need for skilled professionals.


But good news! There are different solar solutions to address these issues, including training solar installers, and building solar manufacturing clusters.

Solution 20: Training Solar Installers

As a Mediterranean city particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Marseille - selected in the EU Mission 100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030 - has prioritised renewable deployment. 


In meeting the solar skills challenge, Marseille has facilitated a key training initiative: The first French solar school; the Ecole de Production des Energies au Sud trains young people, both in technical and human fields, from the age of 15, in solar professions. The complete school curriculum offers young people access to become a certified Electrician, a Professional Baccalaureate in Maintenance and Energy Efficiency, and a CQP Installer and Maintainer of photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. These diplomas are recognised by the state and the professional world.

Photo: © Meyer Burger

Solution 21: Building Solar Manufacturing Clusters

Saxony has a long legacy of innovation, cutting-edge industry, and developing regional industrial clusters, especially in the field of solar PV manufacturing, with an ambition to become a leader in this area. Saxony’s State Ministry for Energy, Climate, Environment and Agriculture has also initiated a ‘Solar Industry Regions Europe (SIRE)’ network, to work towards a sovereign and climate-friendly European energy supply, by strengthening the European solar manufacturing industry.


The regions in the network are uniting their voice to be heard louder at the EU level. Saxony is working to intensify the exchange between associations, companies, and state administrations, bundle their competences, identify best practice examples in the regions, and create synergies between the regions.


The Basque Energy Cluster is a non-profit organisation set up in late 1996, within the framework of the Basque Government's policy to foster competitiveness in the industrial sector. The cluster currently comprises of 200 businesses and agencies including: energy sector operators, equipment and component manufacturers, engineering firms, service companies, Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network agents, and Basque Government public agencies


Solar PV has been selected as part of the strategic areas identified by the Basque Energy Agency. The Basque value chain must prepare itself for the major growth that the photovoltaic sector will experience in the energy transition process in the coming years by promoting technological innovation, improving its competitiveness, and exploring new business models that will help to consolidate its international positioning. 

Download the full report here, and listen to our solar cities podcast here.


Stay tuned for more solar city solutions!


Header image: © Velvet