Landmark week for European Green Deal with solar primed to play key role

This past week has seen key achievements for Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s European Green Deal, with announcements concerning the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan and the Just Transition Mechanism clarifying how the road to climate neutrality will be funded, and the European Parliament’s strong support signalling public approval. 

On January 14th, the Commission presented details on the European Green Deal Investment Plan, revealing the long-term strategy for mobilising public and private funding, amounting to €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade. Through EU financial instruments, the Commission aims to develop an enabling framework that will encourage the level of investment needed to transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “The announcement concerning the European Green Deal Investment Plan unveils the path forward to achieving the European Green Deal’s ambitious climate targets. For solar, the news that the European Commission has committed to mobilise at least €1 trillion of investments over the next decade to support a just and green transition and that the European Investment Bank will increase the share of climate-dedicated financing from the current 25% up to 50% in the next 5 years is cause for celebration, as the redirected funds will help continue the EU’s upward trajectory of solar deployments.  Whereas regulation establishing a framework to facilitate sustainable investment, such as the EU taxonomy, may support conventional technologies under certain conditions , it is now crucial that investments are first directed towards cost-competitive, already available and Europe-leading renewable solutions, such as solar.”

A crucial dimension of this sustainable investment framework is the Just Transition Mechanism, which ensures that nobody gets left behind during the energy transition. This involves targeting the countries and regions that will be most affected by the transition, including former coal regions. The Commission announced that €7.5 billion of ‘fresh EU funds’ will be made available to regions to help workers develop necessary new skills, to foster SMEs, and to support clean energy technologies.

Hemetsberger commented: “The Just Transition Mechanism proposal by the European Commission is a positive step towards an inclusive and just energy transition. It is crucial that no European regions or communities are left behind in the upcoming climate transition, and solar, as the most cost-effective, scalable, and popular energy source, can play a significant role in ensuring a beneficial transition for all. In fact, a recent Joint Research Centre study found solar to be particularly suitable for employing former coal workers and to help drive regional development. Couple this with the projections from our recent European Market Outlook, which found that solar installations will continue to increase, with record-breaking deployments in both 2022 and 2023, and it is clear that solar is primed to facilitate a truly just energy transition.”

Wrapping up this landmark week was the European Parliament’s vote on the Green Deal, where the climate strategy resolution was overwhelmingly adopted. MEPs approved the climate targets, pushing for even more ambitious medium- and long-term goals.

Hemetsberger added: “The European Parliament’s vote shows their strong commitment to delivering the Green Deal, and to ensuring a climate-neutral future for Europe. The overwhelming support for a European Climate Law, that would enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality goal, along with 2030 and 2040 milestones, and the backing of the increased emissions reduction target of 55% by 2030, represents important progress towards a successful energy transition. Solar is in a perfect position to help to deliver on these targets due to its low cost, scalability, and highly innovative applications. Solar is booming in the EU, with an over 100% market increase in 2019, and projections showing record-breaking installations in the coming years. This is a golden opportunity to adopt an industrial strategy for the solar industry that can ensure the security of supply, the creation of highly-skilled and local jobs, and to maintain Europe’s world-leading R&D in solar.”

Photo: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP

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