Next Generation Solar Manufacturing: ARMOR solar power films

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.

First up is ARMOR solar power films, developed by France’s ARMOR Group, the ultra-light, very thin, highly flexible, semi-transparent films are extremely sensitive to low and diffused light. The technology also has a limited environmental footprint, using neither toxic products nor rare metals, with a low carbon production process. We asked Denis Bourène, ASCA® Structures Business Development Manager for ARMOR Group, some questions about the project.

1) Can you briefly introduce your project

ARMOR’s project is to develop a European solar giga-factory of a disruptive technology that will maximise the potential of solar energy without jeopardising green spaces and agricultural lands.

2) How does your project innovate the solar sector?

We manufacture OPV (organic photovoltaic) films which have unique physical characteristics and can be integrated in numerous active solutions to energise any artificial surface such as building facades, green houses, or even electrical vehicles.

3) What kind of jobs will be created, and which skills are you looking for in workers?

We foresee this OPV EU vertical value chain will create around 6,000 new jobs with a wide range of competencies. Those will be direct jobs as well as indirect in various fields such as:

  • OPV component suppliers of organic polymers, protective barrier-films
  • Integration partners in Europe such as glass, textile, metal
  • Polycarbonate manufacturers as well as installers
  • European EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractors
  • Energy and utilities companies
  • European greenhouse manufacturers
  • Facilities managers

4) How will your project help accelerate the energy transition?

OPV enables us to energise any existing surface thanks to solar energy. Moreover, it is cheap to produce and uses a low carbon manufacturing roll to roll process with extremely limited environmental footprint. The film is also 100% recoverable.

5) What support do you need – financial or otherwise – to realise the project?

We plan to invest close to €200 million by 2025. We are expecting one third of this amount in grants and reimbursable advance from the EU. But it is also important that the EU increases PV innovation tenders and fosters low carbon footprint demands. This support is crucial to reach the giga-factory size and achieve lower and competitive price in order to enable a massive spread of OPV.

6) Describe your vision of Europe’s energy future

We are convinced that Europe has the technology, the skills, and the financial means of fostering a European Solar manufacturing renaissance. Existing and upcoming technologies will be more efficient and more sustainable, and solar energy will have a key role in the European energy mix to achieve its climate-neutrality target by 2050.

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: n.chevillard@solarpowereurope.org.

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