Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves through Europe, with rising fears about energy security and citizens facing astronomical energy prices. As we move towards the winter, Europeans are fearing energy bills they risk being unable to pay. In these times of crisis, solar can provide the solution by offering affordable, reliable and clean energy.
The Ember report notes that solar records were broken in 18 EU countries with Poland seeing solar generation increased 26 times, followed by 5-fold increases in Finland and Hungary. The overall increase in generation saved 20bcm of fossil gas imports avoiding costs of €29 billion.
10 EU Member States generated over a tenth of their electricity from solar panels during the summer of 2022:
The summer of 2022 is a clear indicator of the importance of solar energy in Europe’s power mix. While the recent records are clearly positive, the EU needs to make an even bigger push towards 2030, reducing permitting barriers, and increasing funding and solar deployment speeds. This is essential not only for climate targets but, perhaps most of all, for the security of the continent.
In order to ensure these trends continue in the coming months and years, it is vital that we address the current bottlenecks. The European Commission’s EU Solar Strategy proposes measures to put solar on all new rooftops and build European manufacturing capacity to 20 GW by 2025, in line with the goals of the European Solar Initiative.
In addition to providing relief from extreme energy bills, solar also has the potential to provide millions of local, green jobs. It is crucial that these positions are filled in order to meet demand and meet the installation targets needed to free Europe from a dependence on Russian gas.
Every megawatt of energy generated by solar and renewables is fewer fossil fuels we need from Russia. Solar offers direct energy price relief to European households and industries. As European leaders are looking at emergency measures to this unprecedented gas crisis, they must look at adopting national solar roll-out programmes now, using the funds available under the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Policy director, SolarPower Europe