On 10 and 11 May, around 150 participants attended the European Technology and Innovation Platform for Photovoltaics (ETIP PV) conference in Brussels.
The conference highlighted the strong European solar PV R&I landscape. However, greater investments in R&I are required to successfully support the growth of the European solar industry in the future, as highlighted in the ETIP PV White paper on PV Manufacturing in Europe, which was published during the Conference. Research and innovation, in connection with a dedicated set of policy and financing measures, can be one of the decisive factors in the resurgence of a European solar supply chain. The paper recommends that:
- Financing needs to be adequate throughout the PV value chain
- Overall, the EU needs a streamlined framework for permitting and application processes for PV manufacturing projects
- The solar PV supply chain needs to be considered in its entirety: European policy making around the PV supply chain cannot only focus on crystalline silicon PV modules
- Investments in research and innovation must be maintained, and intensified
During the conference, representatives from industry, academia, and policy, shared their views on the challenges and opportunities of strengthening the European solar PV supply chain. The conference explored the role of solar technology and innovation as a key aspect of bringing solar PV manufacturing back to Europe.
It featured four panel discussions on:
- Global solar manufacturing developments;
- European supply chain competitiveness;
- The European pipeline of R&D and innovation; and
- Environmental as well as commercial sustainability.
Lukasz Kolinski, Head of Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate for Energy, opened the conference, emphasising the need for a European approach to successfully deliver the resurgence of a domestic solar supply chain. He highlighted that: "The EU is now finalising negotiations on the Renewable Energy Directive, with a binding 42.5% renewable energy target, and a target for innovative technologies - a doubling of the current share of renewables in 8 years. These are important steps to direct industry and investors, and provide predictability."
Panel discussions at the conference also highlighted that greater ambition was required for EU R&I, to prevent the EU solar PV sector from falling behind other regions. Rutger Schlatmann, Head of the Solar Energy division at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, and ETIP PV Chairman, commented: “The European manufacturing and equipment industry has always been built on a very strong R&I infrastructure. Now more than ever, Europe will need to invest heavily to mark its position in this very fast-moving and highly competitive technology.”
Opening Day 2 of the conference, Rosalinde van der Vlies, Clean Planet Director in the European Commission, remarked: “EU programmes like Horizon Europe will allow Europe to lead in solar PV research and innovation. However, we also need a quicker transfer from Lab-to-Fab testing, in order to really capitalise on European research results.”
Concluding the conference, Peter Fath, CEO of RCT Solutions, chair of the ETIP PV Industry Working Group and one of the ETIP PV Conference 2023 Chairs stated that: “The competitiveness cost of PV manufacturing in Europe is an issue that we can overcome. The main challenge is the lack of a well-established value chain in Europe.”
Overall, this year’s conference provided a valuable platform for exchanging and shaping the key topics of the European solar PV industry. Reflecting on the conference, Delfina Muñoz, Senior Research at INES and ETIP PV Conference Chair, stated: “We need to wake up, and create a European PV manufacturing ecosystem not only profitable, but also socially and environmentally sustainable.”