Eight Actions to Solar-Power EU Energy Independence New Report

On March 31st the international solar community gathered in Brussels for the SolarPower Summit. In light of the unprovoked Russian war on Ukraine, the Summit publicly launched a landmark paper on the necessary, realistic, ambition for solar-powered EU energy independence.

Presented to EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, by European solar CEOs during a roundtable exchange, ‘Raising Solar Ambition for the European Union’s Energy Independence’ acts as SolarPower Europe’s official response to the consultation for the upcoming EU Solar Strategy. This paper sets out exactly what solar power can deliver for the EU's climate goals and energy security in the short-, medium-, and long-term (and what we need to get there).  

 

In the short term, to support immediate divestment from Russian gas, and with the right framework for the rooftop segment, solar can deliver 39 GW* of additional EU energy capacity for the coming winter. This represents 23.3 GW of solar rooftops, and 15.7 GW of utility scale solar installations. SolarPower Europe is currently surveying the sector to understand what additional utility scale solar is possible if we are able to fast-track shovel-ready projects.  

 

The real solar acceleration can happen in the medium-term. The current REPowerEU solar market 2030 projection of 525 GW falls short of the true potential of solar expansion, with industry pre-war, business-as-usual scenario predictions of 672 GW. With the Russian war on Ukraine, and the increasingly acute climate crisis, the paper presents an accelerated high scenario, foreseeing over 1 TW of total EU solar capacity by 2030, and details the eight actions that will build the necessary foundations for the European solar Terawatt age: 

 

  • Accelerate the deployment of projects 
  • Connect and integrate solar projects into the grid 
  • Develop the skills & workforce needed to deploy solar projects 
  • Deploy integrated solar PV applications 
  • Secure supply chains and access to raw materials 
  • Reinvest in domestic manufacturing 
  • Boost the deployment of rooftop solar PV during the renovation wave 
  • Develop an enabling framework for consumer-driven solar 

 

 

Aristotelis Chantavas, President of SolarPower Europe said: “The continent is facing war and geopolitical instability at a time when the climate emergency grows ever more intense. Europeans are just beginning to emerge from a global pandemic, already struggling to manage gas-driven soaring energy prices. Solar energy offers immediate relief – with potentially 39 GW potential additional capacity for this coming winter – and long-term sustainable solutions. 1 TW of solar in 2030 can replace all Russian gas imports to the EU. We have no more time to waste, we must raise EU solar ambition.” 

 

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “The SolarPower Summit comes at a crucial time. The unprovoked Russian war in Ukraine is a rough awakening from Europe’s fossil-fuel dependency and complacency. Factoring in this latest SolarPower Europe paper, the REPowerEU strategy, and the upcoming EU Solar Strategy, will be crucial tools to guide Europe towards a brighter, solar-powered future.”  

 

Naomi Chevillard, Head of Regulatory Affairs at SolarPower Europe said: “We need to develop the right frameworks to put Europe on track of the Terawatt Era and provide the political signals to the industry to tap the true potential of solar. In the short-term, current market interventions (in response to steep energy prices) must be time-bound and limited in nature – or we risk preserving investment conditions for a fossil-fuel based system.” 

 

Raffaele Rossi, Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe said: “Solar is the fastest growing EU energy source – adding about 26 GW of capacity in 2021, which is 136% more than the 11 GW added by the second-fastest growing energy, wind. It’s more than all new other renewable, fossil fuel, and nuclear capacities combined in 2021. Basing the necessary energy transition on solar power’s exponential growth is the responsible and right path to take. We just need to remove the remaining barriers and set an ambitious solar target.” 

 

Notes 

  • All referenced solar capacities use direct current (DC) units; European Commission numbers given in alternating current (AC) are re-calculated, where 1 GWac = 1.25 GWdc. 
  • 1 GW is equivalent to the energy needs of 300,000 European homes 
  • 39 GW is equivalent to 4.57 BCM of gas 
  • The EU Solar Strategy is expected in July 2022 
  • The Position Paper was presented to Commissioner Simson on March 30 in Brussels, during a meeting convened by SolarPower Europe CEO, Walburga Hemetsberger and SolarPower Europe President, Aristotelis Chantavas. In attendance were 11 other European solar CEOs from: Enel Green Power, Wacker Chemie AG, Lightsource BP, Meyer Burger Technology AG, IBC Solar, SMA Solar Technology AG, Statkraft, Abo Wind, Akuo Energy, BayWa r.e. AG, Iberdrola Renovables Energia
Questions? Get in touch.

Bethany Meban
Senior Press and Communications Advisor

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