Solar Power Making a Major Contribution to Jobs and Wealth in Europe, but the Full Potential is not yet Realised

Brussels, 3 December 2015 – A new EY study assessing the socio-economic contribution of solar to jobs and value added in Europe is launched today. The study notes the impressive contribution that solar is making to job and wealth creation in Europe and that by 2020, this contribution will grow. It also shows that the level of jobs in the solar sector has fallen from around 180,000 in 2008 to around 110,000 today. Likewise the Gross Value Added of the sector has fallen from around 10 billion Euros to 6 billion Euros in 2014. This situation is predicted to improve to nearly 140,000 jobs and almost 7 billion Euro GVA by 2020.

Commenting on the study’s findings, James Watson, Chief Executive of SolarPower Europe ‘This study shows that there is much work for our policymakers to do in Europe to realise the potential of solar, we have seen in COP21 countries such as India and France offering a global leadership role on solar and private investment organisations coming together to launch a trillion dollar Terrawatt Initiative for solar. For Europe to reach the European Commission’s ambition to be the number one in renewables we need to accelerate the deployment of solar considerably in the coming years. This will boost employment and wealth generation far beyond the forecasts in this study. The last study on jobs commissioned by SolarPower Europe in 2011 showed employment at more than 250,000 jobs at that time, the decrease since then has been accelerated through policy changes introduced in Europe during this period.’

One of those regulatory changes has also been considered in the study, which examines the impact of the existing trade barriers on Chinese modules and cells entering the European Union. It finds that a removal of the barriers could lead to more than 50,000 extra jobs being created in Europe by 2020. Importantly the EY model suggests that these would be along the value chain, including in inverters, balance of systems, modules, etc. Commenting on this Watson said ‘These findings show that Europe can clearly benefit from an end to the trade measures on modules and cells. This would be good for the entire European solar value chain, creating more jobs and boosting the economy to support Europe in reaching its ambitious climate objectives, including to be the number one in renewables.’

The study also shows that the majority of the jobs and value creation in the solar sector in Europe are in the downstream segment. This has been the case since 2008 and is set to continue to be true through to 2020. Watson added, ‘To fully realise the great potential of solar in Europe, we need policy makers to remove all barriers for installers and investors – including regulatory uncertainty, unjustified taxes and an improvement to the current electricity market design.’

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