Empowering Change: Sustainable Solar Europe 2023

11 December 2023

On the 7th of December, in the heart of Brussels, over 250 industry professionals, policymakers, and renewable energy experts gathered for the second edition of Sustainable Solar Europe, a Solar Power Europe flagship event co-organised with Intersolar. Following the success of the 2022 edition, la Tricoterie, a former brewery, now hub for cutting-edge dialogue, hosted the ultimate event to exchange about solar sustainability. 


“In 2002, the world had a mere 1 GW of total solar capacity, but today, the industry installs a remarkable 1 GW every single day”, highlighted Markus Elsaesser, the CEO of Solar Promotion GmbH, a testament to the phenomenal growth of the solar industry. 

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, emphasised the excellent timing for Sustainable Solar EU 2023: “SustainableSolarEU couldn't come at a better time; world leaders are in Dubai landing a new climate deal, and in Brussels, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)and the Net Zero Industry Act are being finalised as we speak. Europe can host almost 1 TW solar by 2030 with the right framework conditions”. 


EU Commissioner for Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius, echoed her message underlining the crucial role played by initiatives like REPowerEU and the EU Solar Strategy in boosting the deployment of renewables. Sinkevičius highlighted win-win solutions including floating solar and  agrisolar, stressing the need for increased private sector support to accelerate their adoption. Moreover, he called attention to the importance of addressing the challenges related to the end-of-life phase of solar panels: “If we increase recycling and refurbishing of solar panels, we cut landfill. We need to support the development of these solutions at scale to increase competitiveness and industry uptake”, he stated. 

Patrick ten Brink, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, contributed to the insightful dialogue with his community-focused perspective: “In engaging citizens, we should look at profit-sharing, we need communities to be invested in renewable projects in their neighbourhoods, in their schools - think about the next generation.” 


The day unfolded with a jam-packed agenda, including discussions on Supply Chain Transparency and insights into upcoming EU regulatory measures on sustainable solar. During the event, our Project Coordinator for Sustainability, Lina Dubina, announced the launch of our new report, ‘Floating PV Best Practice Guidelines, the result of the hard work of over 30 experts from our Land Use and Permitting workstream. 



Senior Policy Advisor Alexia Ruvoletto provided a crucial update on the Solar Stewardship Initiative, stating: "A company joining SSI undergoes a due diligence check, & signs the SSI Principles. The Principles bind the company to the respect of human rights & a process of continuous improvement." This reaffirmed the commitment of the Solar Stewardship Initiative to ethical and sustainable practices in the solar industry. 

Some of the event’s highlights were the announcement of the Solar Sustainability Award and Photo Competition winners. Iberdrola Renewables was nominated Solar Sustainability Champion 2023, thanks to their visionary project—the first shared self-consumption solar community in Spain. Over 400 inhabitants actively participate, enjoying savings of up to 50% on their energy bills. 


The photo competition winner, Greenvolt, was recognized for their outstanding contribution. 

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