On the occasion of Earth Day, SolarPower Europe held a webinar centred on the immense solar power generation potential of Europe’s vacant rooftops. The session was hosted by MEP Jutta Paulus (Greens) and MEP Pernille Weiss (EPP), and addressed best practices and case studies from European regions that are leading the energy transition.
The session followed yesterday’s ENVI Committee meeting in the European Parliament, where Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans emphasised the Commission’s dedication to the European Green Deal to ensure a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis: “We should concentrate on a plan, a green plan, that delivers quickly in terms of jobs and economic growth. We should help builders put solar panels on houses, we should help homeowners to insulate their houses, or even at the larger scale of cities and regions.”
MEP Jutta Paulus, from the European Greens, said: “Everyone wants to be part of the energy transition, and in order to unlock this possibility, we need to make sure that the Clean Energy Package is properly translated into national law. While challenges and barriers are different across the EU and must be addressed accordingly, the crucial point is to give citizens the right to produce and trade their own electricity. We have the opportunity to build a more resilient and participatory society where people can participate in the energy transition, and be part of a cleaner and more inclusive future.”
MEP Pernille Weiss, from the EPP, said: “The European Green Deal will require significant upskilling and reskilling to carry out the transition. Rooftop solar is part of the solution, and together with other renewable technologies, such as heat pumps, can power the green transition. This represents a significant opportunity to create many green jobs. A further lesson here is the importance of evidence-based policymaking, and making decisions according to the latest scientific knowledge.”
Michael Sebanz, Director of Energy, Climate Change, and Housing for the Region of Styria, said: “Styria is the state in Austria with the highest solar PV production. In our eyes it is obvious that installing solar on rooftops is an efficient solution to the clean energy transition. We now are working on a spatial energy planning programme for PV, which would indicate where PV is best installed. This will allow us to harness the power of the sun and maximise the efficiency of this technology. We are also considering a building reform package which could make PV systems mandatory on the roofs of new buildings.”
Aitor Urresti González, Director General of Energy and Climate Change for the Balearic Islands, said: “The Balearic Islands will be one of the most impacted regions in all of the EU in terms of climate change, so it is essential we act now to mitigate this risk. Already we have a Climate Change and Energy Transition Law that includes mandatory solar PV installations on all large rooftops, including parking lots, shopping centres, and public buildings. This will help us reach our ambitious energy targets of 35% renewables by 2030, and 100% renewables by 2050.”
Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe, said: “Considering that the EU building stock currently accounts for 36% of the region’s CO2 emissions, it is essential to address decarbonisation options. Solar is already contributing here, and installing solar on available EU rooftop space could save up to 7 million tonnes of CO2 per year. A pan-European solar rooftop programme as a pillar of the upcoming Renovation Wave not only would solve building decarbonisation efforts, but would create local, qualified, and sustainable jobs, and new green growth ecosystems.”
The webinar, Solar Cities and Regions: Unlocking the EU’s Rooftop Potential,included presentations from Laure Chapuis, Cabinet Expert for Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson; Michael Sebanz, Director of Energy, Climate Change and Housing for the Region of Styria; Aitor Urresti González, Director General of Energy and Climate Change for the Balearic Islands; and Léopold Coppieters, Cofounder of Brussels-based Skysun. It was part of SolarPower Europe’s Shine On series, and followed sessions covering COVID-19, industrial strategy, Agri-PV, and the report, 100% Renewable Europe. Future webinars will address financing, O&M, and emerging markets. For more information on these events, click here.