The starting whistle blew on Monday when the SolarPower Europe team took part in a solar race in Brussels. Adorned in bright yellow t-shirts and rays of sunshine, SolarPower Europe runners raced to overcome obstacles, passing the golden baton between teams, and accelerating across the finish line. It is fair to say the energy was high for the week ahead.
The following days consisted of our EU Solar CEO Forum, where the EU’s leading solar CEOs met with EU Vice-Presidents, Commissioners, and Director-Generals, to exchange on the most crucial issues for the solar sector, as we get ready to race towards energy and climate security.
We were joined by European Commission Executive Vice President, EU Green Deal, Frans Timmermans; Executive Vice President and Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager; EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson; and EU Commissioner for Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius.
On the agenda:
- The Green Deal Industrial Plan: Avoiding new dependencies by building up a resilient and competitive European solar PV industry, and diversifying supply chains
- Electricity Market Design and providing regulatory stability
- Tackling the solar skills challenge
- Digitalisation of the energy sector
- Nature-positive solar deployment while speeding up permitting
- Grids, flexibility and storage
Our solar CEOs were then transferred from the CEO Forum to the Radisson Hotel, in sun-coloured electric Volkswagen minivans, where we kicked off our biggest and best SolarPower Summit to date!
Opening the first session, we had keynote speeches from an esteemed selection of high-level speakers, including Kadri Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy, Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA); Aristotelis Chantavas, President SolarPower Europe; Anna Moskwa, Minister of Climate and Environment, Poland; and SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger!
Some of our favourite quotes:
SolarPower Europe President, Aristotelis Chantavas:
"One fundamental thing was clear in our discussions: the solar sector is racing forward. Europe is running from volatile energy prices, toward energy security. Global economies are in a clean tech, supply chain, sprint. And we cannot forget, we are all in a race together against climate change.”
EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson:
"Over the past year, you have risen as a key player and contributor in our endeavours to boost renewables’ capacity in Europe. Solar PV is where we are seeing the most positive developments – with record year-on-year installations! The 41 gigawatts of installed solar PV is a major success. And this is just the beginning. The EU wants to see the solar industry continue to thrive in Europe.”
Executive Director, International Energy Agency, (IEA), Fatih Birol:
"I'm an engineer, but you don't have to be an engineer to work in the clean tech industry. To tackle climate change, we need to recruit more broadly and access 100% of the potential workforce. After all, solar is a sexy industry – who wouldn’t want to work in it?"
Member of European Parliament
"Why was solar deployed so fast in Poland? Our history; our mentality. We have challenging neighbours. Solar is 100% about independence, self-sufficiency, something that can't be taken away."
Minister of Climate and Environment, Poland
Conversations continued over the next day and a half, covering topics of supply chains; Agri PV and Floating PV; spatial planning and permitting; corporate sourcing; and more. Panelists uncovered solar pioneers in our national deep dive sessions, and our disruptive corner gave the spotlight to some of the brightest innovative solutions for solar.
Our networking dinner took place at Plein Publiek, just minutes from the conference venue, where guests were served delicious vegetarian meal options with the chance to network and experience our 360° solar experience room.
The event ended with presentations from our Solar Startup finalists, before the audience voted for their 2023 winner. Read more about the winning start up, Enernite, here.