Solar Pledge planned at EU Energy Council

SolarPower Europe Statement

4 March 2024

At today’s EU Energy Council meeting, the 27 EU Energy Ministers and representatives from the European Commission discussed the current landscape of the European solar industry. 


On behalf of SolarPower Europe, CEO Walburga Hemetsberger presented the industry’s position on what more is needed to support solar’s leading role in the energy transition.


At the conclusion of the meeting, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said at a press conference: 

"There is a stark contrast between the positive rapid deployment of solar PVs and the very fragile situation of European manufacturers squeezed by the surge in cheap imports from third countries.
We all agreed that we need a policy that safeguards the speeding up of our solar PV deployment but also preserves a competitive, sustainable, and innovative EU industrial base in the sector.
I have proposed policy ideas together with Commissioner Breton in a recent letter and these found support [with the Member States].

I will now work on a Solar Power Pledge, where member states and stakeholders would commit to take concrete actions to support our production here in Europe."




© SolarPower Europe

L-R Mechthild Worsdorfer - Deputy Director at DG ENER, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Alexandra Sdoukou - Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy of Greece, Tinne Van der Straeten - Minister of Energy of Belgium, Walburga Hemetsberger - CEO of SolarPower Europe, Leonore Gewessler - Austrian Minister for Energy


Following the meeting, SolarPower Europe CEO, Walburga Hemetsberger (she/her) said:  


“In 2022, the EU Solar Strategy and REPowerEU changed the game. Europe is now betting on a 750 GW solar target for 2030 to decarbonise our economy, protect our citizens from fossil volatility, and reinforce European industrial competitiveness.  


Solar has boomed in the early 2020s – at least 40% annual growth for three years in a row. But now we’re maturing, and as we reach this new stage, we face more sophisticated challenges. 


In speaking to Ministers, we encouraged them to double down on the good progress of National Energy and Climate Plans. Of the available updated NECPs, the aggregate solar target has increased by more than 80%. But we still fall short of the 750 GW target, with Member States only setting their sights on 591 GW of solar by 2030. 

Critically, Member States must ensure full implementation of the good permitting rules under emergency EU legislation and the Renewable Energy Directive. Here, we reminded Ministers of the powerful role of Agrisolar, which can support farmers revenue streams, improve soil quality, and optimise water usage – all while supporting the deployment of solar. 


Grids and flexibility is another key issue that we raised with Ministers, encouraging them to work with the European Commission to deliver the EU Grids Action Plan, and take it further with an EU Grids and Flexibility Action Plan.  


Ministers were particularly gripped by the acute challenges faced by European solar manufacturers right now, and their important role in the necessary strengthening and diversification of the global solar supply chain.  


We took the opportunity to underline the urgent support needed by European manufacturers to ensure they can survive, scale, and deliver the EU 30 GW manufacturing target by 2030.  


Beyond emergency measures, we urged Ministers to make optimal use of existing financing support under revised State Aid rules and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. To leverage the single market, we further explained our proposal of an EU-wide financing vehicle dedicated to solar manufacturing.  


Building on this, I also took the opportunity to propose an Important Project of Common European Interest to bolster European inverters. Inverters are the brain of solar systems, and support the smart digitalisation of our grids. We have enduring inverter manufacturing in Europe, and we must reinforce this leadership. 


Having discussed solutions, we were also careful to highlight what should not be considered a solution – trade defence measures. Europe needs a robust industrial strategy accompanied by clear ESG market access standards. History has shown that trade defence measures are a lose-lose scenario, neither supporting manufacturers nor deployment. 


We are grateful to Ministers for taking the time today to discuss the barriers that are holding solar back, and the tools we can use to break through those barriers. It was a positive dialogue that must continue in order to meet the goals Europe has set itself. We look forward to working together with the European Commission and Energy Ministers on a solar pledge in the next weeks and months.” 


SolarPower Europe’s contribution to the EU Energy Council took place during #SolarWeek on the first day of the annual Solar Power Summit in Brussels. Read the opening speech from SolarPower Europe President Aristotelis Chantavas here. 

Questions? Get in touch.

Bethany Meban
Head of Press and Policy Communications

+32 492 97 82 48
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