EU Solar Map

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  • General view
  • Targets
  • Auction System
  • Administrative measures
  • Prosumers
  • PPAs
  • Flexibility & Storage
  • Grid Development

A solar-powered energy system in 2030

SolarPower Europe’s assessment of the National Energy and Climate Plans

Solar PV energy holds immense potential for the future European energy mix, driven by falling costs (reaching USD 5ct/kWh in 2019 according to IRENA) and scalability on rooftops, carports, water surfaces, and many other innovative applications. It is now widely acknowledged that solar, together with wind, will significantly grow in the coming decade: the IEA forecasts threefold growth of the C&I rooftop PV capacity by 2024, and SolarPower Europe’s European Market Outlook projects double-digit growth of the annual total solar market over the same period of time.

EU member states' National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) can facilitate a cost-effective deployment of solar by providing clear investment perspectives and enabling frameworks, which benefits all Europeans and can ensure a fast and green recovery. The cost-efficient deployment of solar projects in Europe is still hampered by several barriers. First, the high cost of finance (representing up to half of project costs in some EU countries) due to the persistence of regulatory uncertainty and the lack of visibility of national policies. Further, lengthy and complex permitting procedures, as well as a lack of available grid capacity, have slowed down the installation of new solar projects even in some of Europe's most promising markets. Removing these barriers could unlock up to half a million jobs by 2030 – up from 100,000 jobs in 2018 – particularly in SMEs active in the rooftop PV sector, while triggering new manufacturing activities in the value chain.

The final NECPs show an improved yet mixed picture for solar. The final plans pledge 209 GW of additional solar PV capacity by 2030, meaning 19 GW of newly installed capacities per year (from 2020 to 2030). This average annual volume of installations is below SolarPower Europe’s estimated market developments under a Medium Scenario. The final NECPs have clear improvements compared to the draft plans published in 2019, but no plan shows a perfect picture across all dimensions.

SolarPower Europe has conducted a detailed assessment of the 27 NECPs, building on the requirements of the Governance Regulation and assessing both the presence and the quality of information, and the ambition of the proposed measures compared to market potential. This assessment is based on SolarPower Europe’s best knowledge at the time of publication.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • Luxembourg includes solar generation targets every five years between 2025 and 2040. With about 1 GW expected to be installed by 2030, the country would result in the highest W/capita in Europe (1580).
  • The Netherlands expects to reach 27 GW of PV capacity by 2030 and includes a 10 TWh generation target from small-scale renewables. With the current ambition, the country would add 20 GW over a decade, reaching a W/capita ratio of 1547.
  • Denmark aims to reach 100% RES-E electricity by 2030 and provides yearly capacity and consumption targets by technology. PV capacity is set to grow by 6.4 GW through 2030, resulting in a W/capita ratio of over 1300.
Solar targets

Throughout the NECPs, there are differences in the quality and amount of information with regard to solar targets. On a positive note, nearly all countries clearly indicate the solar target for 2030, with Latvia being the only notable exception. Moreover, numerous plans indicate intermediate trajectories in terms of yearly capacity targets, or post-2030 targets. Targets are usually expressed in terms of GW of PV capacity or TWh of PV electricity generation. However, with the exception of a handful of countries, plans do not include targets disaggregated by system size, or distributed versus utility-scale installations.

Using the Watt per capita ratio1 in 2030 as a parameter to assess member states’ solar ambition, the picture across the EU looks rather scattered. Alongside a number of top performers (LU, NL, DK, DE) that have set a solar target resulting in over 1000 W/capita by 2030, a significant number of countries have set low ambition targets that would result in a W/capita ratio below the current EU average (267). With an expected EU-wide Watt per capita ratio of 742 by 2030, most of NECP solar targets imply a Watt per capita ratio below the expected EU average.

Looking at the aggregated solar targets, a total new capacity amounting to 209 GW is set to be installed across the bloc by 2030. In cumulative terms, 2030 solar targets amount to 328 GW, which is in line with a low ambition scenario whereby solar potential is not fully harnessed. By comparison, SolarPower Europe’s 100% Renewable Europe study projects that more than 850 GW could be installed by 2030 in order to achieve a 100% renewable-based energy system by 2050. All in all, the aggregated final pledge falls significantly short of what would be needed to match EU climate ambition.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • Luxembourg includes solar generation targets every five years between 2025 and 2040. With about 1 GW expected to be installed by 2030, the country would result in the highest W/capita in Europe (1580).
  • The Netherlands expects to reach 27 GW of PV capacity by 2030 and includes a 10 TWh generation target from small-scale renewables. With the current ambition, the country would add 20 GW over a decade, reaching a W/capita ratio of 1547.
  • Denmark aims to reach 100% RES-E electricity by 2030 and provides yearly capacity and consumption targets by technology. PV capacity is set to grow by 6.4 GW through 2030, resulting in a W/capita ratio of over 1300.
Auctions

To some extent, NECPs include information about the current and future plans for solar and renewable tenders at the national level. A few top performers (DE, IT, PT) tick all the boxes about the presence of information on auctions, including details on schedules, volumes and design, or they define renewable energy auctions as the prime means to reach the NECP targets. By contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, 9 countries do not include any information about solar auctions. However, the majority of plans are somewhat in the middle. Several countries refer to a process of auction design that is currently underway and therefore contains limited details on timing and volumes.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • Italy and Germany provide details on the auction systems, explaining the different designs, as well as how the auctions will be allocated over time.
  • Although the plan does not provide exact schedule and volumes, Portugal specifies that auctions will be announced well in advance to ensure greater predictability for potential interested parties and will take place on an annual basis to reach their NECP goals.
Administrative procedures

The NECPs demonstrate a lack of clarity on the measures aimed at improving administrative measures, with several plans including very little to no information regarding administrative procedures. Several plans do not clearly state how they will implement the Clean Energy Package one-contact-point system for the permit-grating procedure (Article 16 of the Renewable Energy Directive). In general, plans fail to tackle the growing challenge of administrative procedures, across all dimensions: the complexity of permit-granting processes, often involving several layers of regional authorities; the lack of measures to facilitate access to land, such as energy zoning or facilitated environmental permits; and the adaptation of procedures for revamped or repowered projects.1 In general, the challenge of access to land is not addressed in the plans.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • Italy proposes a comprehensive plan for the simplification of administrative procedures, which includes measures to promote the installation of PV on agricultural land and the development of specific procedures for the revamping and repowering of projects.
  • Sweden has taken several actions to simplify and lighten its administrative procedures and related application forms.
  • Portugal has made efforts regarding the simplification of administrative procedures, including the introduction of a digital platform for permit-granting proceedings, the modernisation of environmental assessment procedures, and guidelines for the repowering of projects.
  • Lithuania presents an ambitious programme for prosumers, accompanied with measures for the simplification of procedures and capacity-building measures targeted to prosumers.
Prosumers

Overall, the NECPs show a general development of prosumer schemes, even though the details of support schemes remain unclear in many countries:

  • 5 countries have included targets for prosumer development (AT, FR, HR, EL, HU), 3 countries present a target for prosumer development in public buildings (BE, LU, ES), and 6 countries present trajectories for prosumer development (CZ, EE, IT, LT, RO).
  • Many plans provide positive enabling frameworks (including measures to improve information and capacity-building of consumers, and dedicated financing schemes).
  • Many plans provide positive enabling frameworks (including measures to improve information and capacity-building of consumers, and dedicated financing schemes).
  • 3 best performers (France, Italy, Luxembourg) present clear objectives or trajectories for prosumer development, have a detailed prosumer scheme and a related enabling framework, and allow collective self-consumption beyond the borders of a building.
Power Purchase Agreements

Despite some improvements compared to the draft plans, the NECPs still do not include details about the enabling regulatory frameworks for PPAs and the measures taken to remove barriers to the development of such contracts. 19 plans do not include any evaluation of the current situation for PPAs (regarding the potential, or the regulatory barriers) nor propose enabling measures.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • Italy has included a forecast for the development trajectory of PPAs.
  • Italy and Spain will set up incentives to the development of PPAs (Green Public Procurements in Italy, obligations on large electricity producers and incentive mechanisms for public institutions in Spain).
  • Italy, Spain, and Denmark have carried out a study to assess the existing legal, regulatory, and technical frameworks for PPAs, and to identify the barriers.
  • Spain has established model contracts to facilitate the uptake of PPAs, while Luxembourg will set up a de-risking facility.
Flexibility and storage

All NECPs include at least some general reference to measures addressing flexibility in the energy system, and the majority refer to actions to implement flexibility provisions from the Clean Energy Package. On the other hand, assessing the current status of storage capacity or demand-side response available for system flexibility is not a common practice. A handful of best-performing countries include exhaustive information on actions to enhance system flexibility, including specific measures and objectives to promote battery storage and demand-side response. However, several NECPs do not make specific reference to battery storage and address the flexibility issue at a general level.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • taly indicates that approximately 6000 MW, split between pumped hydro and centralised batteries, and about 4000 MW of distributed storage facilities will be required to support system flexibility and maximise self-consumption.
  • Bulgaria states that funding will be allocated to incentivise investments in batteries through support schemes, with the aim of promoting the combination of new renewable capacity with local electricity storage facilities.
  • Germany notes that the government has the intention to support investments in energy storage technologies, and that support schemes are already available at regional level. Moreover, their plan states that measures will be taken to facilitate the participation of storage to electricity markets.
Grid integration

NECPs in general do not provide information on preparing grids for a large-scale integration of renewables. Mostly they focus on transmission network and interconnections, while the forecast growth of medium- and low-voltage connected devices and prosumers requires more attention to the development of distribution grids as well as smart grid technologies. The reasons are the focus of NECPs, from the Governance Regulation, on interconnection development and high voltage grids, and, in certain countries, a low ambition for the development of renewables.

Good practices from EU countries include the following:

  • France announces the publication of a dedicated study with the International Energy Agency on the large-scale integration of renewables into the grid.
  • Germany proposes a set of comprehensive measures to accelerate grid expansion, thanks to streamlining approval procedures, and improving investment incentives for system operators, together with measures to develop new “smart grid technologies” and to optimise and modernise grid operation.
  • In Greece, the DSO is developing a study to identify the required enhancement of the distribution network and the congested areas of the distribution grid, and to produce a methodology to determine future investments costs, identify critical areas of intervention, and take into account the demand for RES project connections.
  • In Sweden, a new financial scheme was introduced to create grid reinforcement loans to enable large renewable generation projects to connect to the grid.

SolarPower Europe (European Photovoltaic Industry Association)
Rue d’Arlon 69-71 . 1040 Brussels . Belgium . +32 2 709 55 20
info@solarpowereurope.org | www.solarpowereurope.org

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