New year, new industrial strategy for European solar

By: Christian Westermeier, President

January 2018

Dear readers, I would like to offer my best wishes to our members, friends, and colleagues for 2018, I hope it is a successful one for you all! The year is off to a strong start for SolarPower Europe as we have been nominated for no less than 3 association awards for the best overall association, best publication and best networking event at the European Association Awards 2018. This positive performance of the association is also reflected through the positive news that in December, we were ranked as the world’s number one association on climate and energy policy by the independent organisation influence map.

We have more reason to celebrate as on the 9th January the European Commissions Clean Energy Industrial Forum was launched with the first High Level Meeting on Renewables led by Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. SolarPower Europe has been at the forefront of developing an Industrial Strategy for solar in the EU and launched our own Industrial Competitiveness Task Force in 2017. Leading members of the taskforce and association attended the High-level meeting including BayWa r.e., Enel Green Power, SMA, Total, and Wacker Chemie. Touching on issues such as trade policy, industrial competitiveness and R&D&I for the renewables and solar sector in Europe, this Forum will be essential for boosting European solar by bringing together the EU and industry players to ensure that the right policies are in place for solar to grow. Instead of simply developing markets for solar, as the majority of the policies do now, this Forum focuses on the supply side strategies in Europe.

The Forum is an exceptional opportunity to review policies which have hampered competitiveness, such as trade measures on solar panels which according to a recent EY study have denied European citizens over 45,500 jobs, and to develop policies which will bolster the entire solar value chain. This will not only be important for the prospects of Europe’s solar industry but the prospects for EU industry as a whole. The growth of solar means countless new business opportunities and jobs in the EU. By 2030, the solar sector could support over 300,000 jobs in Europe according to a recent EY study – this would double the jobs provided by solar today. Reducing carbon emissions and boosting EU industry are not mutually exclusive – both can be realised through strengthening the competitiveness of Europe’s solar and renewable energy sector. We need a stable and predictable economic and political framework that sends the right signals to investors – which is why the Clean Energy Forum is a monumental milestone for the sector. This Forum is exactly what Europe needs to help catalyse Europe’s next big solar boom and to solidify its spot as a global leader in renewable energy.

The launch of the European Commission’s Clean Energy Industrial Forum is a major success for SolarPower Europe, who have called for this since mid-2016, and it is an initiative that we will remain fully engaged with. If you are interested in joining our Industrial Competitiveness Strategy Task Force, please contact Sonia Dunlop for more information.

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