Launched in February 2021 by SolarPower Europe and EIT InnoEnergy, the European Solar Initiative aims to redevelop 20 GW of solar manufacturing in Europe by 2025, unlocking €40bn of GDP annually and creating up to 768,000 new EU solar manufacturing jobs. The investment pillar of the initiative, the Business Investment Platform, is accompanying a number of candidate projects for investment support. The industrial pillar, the Solar Manufacturing Accelerator, promotes dialogue among industry partners.
To mark the European Solar Initiative’s first birthday, Joaquim Almeida de Nunes and Jacek Truszczynski, Director and Deputy Head of Unit at DG Grow, joined Christian Westermeier, VP at Wacker Chemie AG, Diego Pavia, CEO at InnoEnergy, and Gøran Bye, CEO of Norwegian Crystal, to discuss the ongoing opportunities and challenges for the platform.
Key successes of the platform in the last 12 months:
- European Solar Initiative inclusion in the revised European Industrial Strategy in May 2021.
- The revised Industrial Strategy also acknowledged the strategic importance of solar PV as one of the 14 key industrial ecosystems for the EU.
- In October 2021 the European Commission report on “Progress on competitiveness of clean energy technologies” notes that the industry is “growing with unexpected speed” and recognizes the EU’s global leadership in various parts of the value chain, including R&D, polysilicon production, and equipment for PV manufacturing.
- Solar manufacturing has been recognised by the EU’s first Innovation Fund call, with Enel Green Power awarded financial support for the 3 GW scale-up of its bifacial heterojunction factory in Catania.
The decision to develop the first EU Solar Strategy, giving a landmark opportunity for industry to underline the importance of solar manufacturing in supply chain resilience. A public consultation aiming at gathering feedback is open until the 12th April 2022.
During the session the European Commission took time to highlight the ‘central role’ of solar in decarbonising the European economy, and identified key challenges we must work together to solve, including funding, permitting, and stimulating demand for emerging technologies. Industry representatives highlighted European manufacturing strengths, but also the necessity to ensure a level playing field for EU manufacturers, through the Ecodesign legislative file. The discussions will fuel an upcoming in-depth review of the solar value chain to be published by the European Commission.