As Europe turns its attention to ensuring a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the solar sector is ready to step up to maintain the momentum of the Commission’s central priority: the European Green Deal. In order to achieve the Green Deal’s energy and climate objectives, European solar PV manufacturing presents a golden opportunity to invest in a strategic technology of the future. This not only creates new jobs and sustainable growth, but increases Europe’s energy security and autonomy, and as Europe has always been the cradle of solar innovation, we already have many cutting-edge manufacturing projects that are shovel-ready and at the forefront of the sector.
The ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’ is an initiative from SolarPower Europe – and strategic partners ESMC, ETIP-PV, IPVF, and VDMA – that is aimed at accelerating the deployment of solar PV manufacturing projects in Europe as a critical milestone to strengthen European leadership in renewable technologies and contribute to the continent’s re-industrialisation. The Accelerator is open to all companies and organisations interested in developing or partnering on solar manufacturing projects.
In this blog series, we talk with representatives of the first 10 European solar manufacturing projects to join the Accelerator, all of whom presented at our Solar Manufacturing Accelerator Conference. Combined, the 10 projects represent more than 20,000 new jobs in Europe, and feature the latest in the manufacturing and innovation of cells, modules, and wafers.
The 5GW+ Green Fab project involves a 5GW production capacity of advanced PERC and IBC high-efficiency cells and modules, which aims to contribute to strengthening the solar industry in Europe in the most sustainable and cost-efficient way possible. We asked Dr. Peter Fath, CEO of RCT Solutions, some questions about the project.
1) Can you briefly introduce your project
The 5GW+ Green Fab project involves cell and module production in Germany, focusing on bifacial PERC and bifacial IBC (ZEBRA) technology. Further, it will include an open platform for PV manufacturers across the EU, and smart-grid projects, which includes planning and module design.
2) How does your project innovate the solar sector?
By strengthening the PV industry in Europe, the c-Si PV supply chain will be re-established. The open platform will enable European research facilities to engage with other players to develop innovative PV at a fast rate. Importantly, the cell and module production will develop quickly.
3) What kind of jobs will be created, and which skills are you looking for in workers?
Jobs will be created for highly-skilled technicians and engineers with semiconductor production experience. As well as operators and a range of other positions.
4) How will your project help accelerate the energy transition?
Innovative PV technology that is made in Europe will lead to more installations in the private and public sector. Production in Europe will accelerate PV development and lead to price reductions, and a lower PV energy price will help to accelerate the energy transition.
5) What support do you need – financial or otherwise – to realise the project?
We are currently discussing with investors to secure around €500 million for the project. We are still open to further investors and loans. Political support would be very useful – for instance, mandatory PV on public buildings in Europe, preferential use of European PV products in public tenders, and feed-in tariffs that reward local or sustainable production.
6) Describe your vision of Europe’s energy future
My vision includes the smart usage of the energy mix, with PV on all public roofs and most private roofs, in combination with hydrogen. As well as smart grids in communities which could be linked across Europe. Varying energy will be used when available and all storage systems – including EVs, hydrogen and heat pumps – used as buffers. Also there will be almost no energy imports, and energy generation is local to Europe.
The Solar Manufacturing Accelerator, which at the moment gathers 40+ participating organisations, will support more industrial projects and is committed to delivering the future of European solar PV manufacturing. If you wish to learn more, please contact Naomi Chevillard: firstname.lastname@example.org.