SolarPower Europe newsletter

Editorial: A 100% Renewable System in Europe will be Primarily a Solar Story

By Michael Schmela, Head of Market Intelligence and Executive Advisor, @sunnybloke 

Photo: © Shutterstock

It is possible for the EU to comply with the ambitious 1.5°C Paris Agreement target and become fully climate neutral by 2040, without any tricks, such as carbon sinks, just by going 100% renewable. This is the main message of SolarPower Europe and LUT University’s modelling of a cost-optimal energy transition in Europe. The results of our new 100% Renewable Europe Report are good news for the European Green Deal, indicating that the European Commission’s climate ambitions can be achieved, even before the 2050 deadline.

The key to achieving a 100% renewable Europe is a high electrification rate of around 85%, which will enhance sectoral integration and result in significant efficiency gains for the energy system. It will also pave the way for renewable hydrogen to contribute to the full decarbonisation of heat and transport sectors by  2030 as the second largest energy carrier. A core technology for the heat segment are heat pumps. With transport having the longest way to go to being 100% renewable, currently only 8% renewable. This transformation relies on batteries that are crucial to electrify vehicles, and even more on hydrogen, but in this case as a base for synthetic fuels that have a prime role to play in the large marine and aviation application field of the transport sector. As such, the key part of energy storage in a 100% renewable powered Europe is batteries. As the share of flexible solar and wind grows significantly beyond 2030, batteries will contribute up to 70% of energy storage, backing up to 24% of the European electricity demand.


Strong electrification is key to enable a 100% renewables powered energy system.

A major finding of this report is that a 100% renewable system in Europe will be primarily a solar story. Solar PV and wind represent the two main pillars of the energy transition, supplying over 90% of power demand in the long term. Due to its unique versality – capable of being installed in any size for distributed and centralised applications – and combined with its strong cost-competitiveness, solar generates over 60% of the electricity in both 100% renewable scenarios modelled for 2040 (Leadership) and 2050 (Moderate). At this penetration level, solar would employ over 4 million people in Europe by 2050.

Such an ambitious energy transition will require significant effort. Just considering the sheer volume of solar installations needed, at least 7.7 TW by 2050 in the Moderate scenario from around 150 GW in Europe currently, will require an annual installed capacity of around 250 GW/year in average – that’s approximately a factor 10 from what was installed last year.

If the EU takes the European Green Deal and Paris Agreement seriously, policymakers must utilise the coming decade to focus on creating the right policy and financing frameworks to enable this unprecedented growth of renewables. We need to enshrine the climate neutrality target into law and adjust the EU 2030 Greenhouse Gas reduction goal to a level that complies with the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target. Only if renewable-based electrification is prioritised by 2030, can the pathway towards the development of competitive and sustainable hydrogen solutions be paved. In this context, it is essential to upgrade, expand, and modernise Europe’s electricity grids, as well as other infrastructures, in order to enable the rapid deployment of distributed flexibility resources and demand response, such as EV charging stations, heat pumps, and battery storage. To stem Solar’s gigantic growth in the coming decades the potential of large-scale solar must be unlocked and a pan-European PV rooftop programme created that would allow installation of the technology on every appropriate building, enabling citizens to become active consumers.


Due to its cost competitiveness, solar PV becomes the dominant source of electricity generation across the three scenarios. After 2030, solar provides the largest power shares among all generation sources and in all scenarios . By 2050, solar reaches between 48% (Laggard scenario) and up to 63% (Leadership scenario).

With solar potentially generating up to two thirds of Europe’s power before 2050 , the EU must push for the technologies needed to bring forward this transition to originate  in Europe to ensure its energy security in the long-term. This study clearly shows that we need a roll-out of a solar industrial strategy today to truly benefit from solar power generation tomorrow. The European solar PV industry needs to be strengthened as a cornerstone of the European Green Economy, complementing existing industry alliances for batteries and hydrogen. In order to stem the large quantities needed solar requires support on the demand side. 

Clearly the transition to a climate-neutral energy system comes at a cost; however, perhaps surprisingly, moving slowly does not make it any less costly. The most cost-effective way of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 is a 100% renewable energy system. According to the modelling in this study, the total cost of achieving 100% before 2050 is 6% lower than the cost of inadequate action in the less ambitious Laggard scenario, which only reaches 62% renewables by 2050, thus missing both the targets of the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.

A 100% renewable transition triggers the sharpest decline in GHG emission, declining by over 60% by 2030, and down to zero in 2050, or even 2040 in the Leadership scenario. By contrast, the Laggard scenario still emits around 800 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2050.

Moving forward, any kind of European stimulus package offers the opportunity not only for economic recovery from COVID-19, but if done sustainably, the possibility of accelerating the energy transition and setting the pathway envisioned in the Green Deal for becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent powered by 100% renewables by 2050, or even before.

Related articles: ­­­

Europe can achieve climate neutrality before 2050 with 100% renewable energy system

Webinar: 100% Renewable Energy in Europe before 2050

Highlight: SolarPower Europe’s First Podcast: Shine On – Solar in the Time of COVID-19

By Lukas Clark-Memler, Press and Communications Advisor @SolarPowerLukas

Photo: © Logoride Illustrations

This month we launched our new podcast ‘Shine On’, and for our first series we explore the impact of COVID-19 on the European solar sector and the steps needed to ensure a green economic recovery.

Guests for this series included Julie Beaufils, the Secretary General of EuropeOn; Dr. Christian Westermeier, Vice President Sales, Marketing, and Application Engineering at Wacker Chemie AG; Jan Krčmář, Chairman of the Board of the Czech Solar Association; and Pedro Amaral Jorge, President of the Board of the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association.

You can listen to all the episodes here, and also listen and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, iTunes, or Stitcher. Please listen, leave a review, and let us know what topics you would like us to address next.

If you have any questions or comments concerning the podcast, please contact the host, Lukas Clark-Memler:

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Introducing the Shine On digital series – solar insights to brighten your day

Solar and renewables to form backbone of post-coronavirus green recovery

By Lukas Clark-Memler, Press and Communications Advisor @SolarPowerLukas

Photo: Pascal Canfin, Chair of the Environment Committee at the European Parliament ©

The past two months saw most of Europe put into lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis. On 9 April, SolarPower Europe held a webinar that addressed the impact of the virus on the European solar sector, with panellists representing solar manufacturing companies and associations from some of Europe’s most heavily affected regions. 

They concluded that the impact of COVID-19 will be felt across all European industries, including the solar sector. We have already seen short-term delays in projects due to a shortage of materials, as well as a demand slowdown in light of the lockdown. However, in the medium to long-term, the sector looks to undergo a quick recovery, especially if national energy and climate ambitions are maintained. For now, the important thing is to ensure that any European stimulus package favours clean energy technologies, making it a green recovery with solar and renewables as the backbone.

This insistence that the solar sector must form a key part of any post-COVID-19 stimulus package, was echoed by a joint letter signed by  environment ministers from Austria, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, who called for the European Green Deal policy framework to be employed as the guiding mechanism for economic recovery. The letter further noted the need to meet climate targets despite the postponement of COP26, which was due to be held in Glasgow in November of this year.

Further, on the initiative of Pascal Canfin, Chair of the Environment Committee at the European Parliament, 180 political decision-makers, business leaders, trade unions, NGOs, and think tanks have come together to form a European Alliance for a Green Recovery.

Ministers from 11 countries, 79 cross-party MEPs from 17 Member States, 37 CEOs, 28 business associations representing 10 different sectors, trade union confederation representing members from 90 national trade union organisations and 10 trade union federations, 7 NGOs and 6 think tanks, have committed to working together to create, support and implement solutions to prepare their economies for the world of tomorrow. SolarPower Europe is also a co-signatory of this call.

This first pan-European call for mobilisation on post-crisis green investment packages will work to build the recovery and transformation plans which enshrine the fight against climate change and biodiversity as a key pillar of the economic strategy. Sharing the belief that  economic recovery will only come with massive investments to protect and create jobs and to support all companies, regions and sectors that have suffered from the economy coming to a sudden halt, the alliance commits to contribute to the post-crisis investment decisions needed to reboot and re-boost the economy.

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Launch of the European alliance for a Green Recovery

Solar industrial strategy key to European energy independence and strategic autonomy

By Lukas Clark-Memler, Press & Communications Advisor  @SolarPowerLukas

Photo: © Enel Green Power

On 16 April, SolarPower Europe held a webinar, “Strategic Approach to European Renewable Industries: The Case for a Solar Industrial Policy”, which explored how a robust solar industrial policy could support EU leadership in cutting-edge PV technologies. In anticipation of the European Commission’s launch of the “Industry Forum,” due in mid-2020, the webinar discussed the importance of an industrial strategy for solar in order to foster Europe’s technological independence and contribute to a renewed green economy.

Panellists included MEP Michael Bloss and MEP Christophe Grudler; as well as Jutta Trube, Vice Managing Director at VDMA Electronics; Dr. Christian Westermeier, Chair of SolarPower Europe’s Industrial Strategy Task Force and Vice President Sales, Marketing, and Application Engineering at Wacker Chemie AG; and Mark Nicklas, Head of Unit Industrial Strategy and Value Chains, DG GROW, European Commission.

The discussion centred on the importance of European energy independence and strategic autonomy, and how solar and renewables can facilitate this transition. IPCEIs (Important Projects of Common European Interest) were presented as a tool to ensure the solar sector secures the investments it requires to maintain European leadership and meet the EU Green Deal targets.

This webinar was part of SolarPower Europe’s Shine On digital series, which includes regular podcasts, webinars, and executive interviews. Stay tuned for future entries in this series, and join the conversation on social media using #ShineOnSolar to stay up to date on what’s happening in the solar sector.

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Positive signs for solar in European Commission’s New Industrial Strategy 

Successful launch of the Agri-PV workstream!

By Miguel Herrero Cangas, Policy Advisor @SolarPowerMig

Photo: © Amarenco

The launch of the SolarPower Europe Agri-PV workstream was held on the 21st of April. This new workstream, chaired by IPP Amarenco, will contribute to placing agricultural photovoltaics high on the agriculture and energy policy agenda to drive the uptake of agricultural PV across Europe and the world.

We organised a webinar (available here) to discuss the unique opportunities brought by the deployment of Agri-PV installations. This highly attended webinar included a presentation from Aurelie Beauvais, Solar Power Europe CEO Ad Interim and Policy Director, who presented the outcome of our revolutionary 100% Renewable Energy Study and outlined the role of solar within the European Green Deal.

Following this, Eva Vandest, Amarenco Agri-PV adviser and Chair of the SolarPower Europe Agri-PV Workstream, and Stephan Schindele, Head of Agri-PV at BayWa r.e., presented the ways their companies are already working to develop local, sustainable solutions, which would enable the achievement of a climate-friendly food and agricultural system – all powered by the sun!

Finally, Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Principal Advisor to the Director General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission, shared her views on how Agri-PV could best contribute to the success of both the clean energy and sustainable agriculture transitions.

On the same day we held the kick-off meeting for the Agri-PV workstream, during which we presented our proposals, which were supported by our members who agreed to focus efforts on two deliverables.

The first one will be a policymaker briefing that will aim to introduce Agri-PV within the EU agricultural agenda and seek to influence the upcoming Farm to Fork Strategy, the review of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Climate Change Adaptation strategy, and the Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative. The work on this Briefing kicked off on the 29th of April and is due to be completed by the end of June.

The second project will be the development of Technical and Policymaker Best Practices Guidelines. This document will aim to incentivise best quality Agri-PV systems. The document will cover the technical requirements needed to maximise the sustainability of Agri-PV project, balancing PV output, agricultural optimisation and meeting agricultural and developer needs. In addition to this, the document will also aim to provide policymakers wishing to develop Agri-PV regulatory frameworks with coherent guidelines to ensure the sustainability. The kick-off meeting of this deliverable will be held in early May.

If you would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Agri-PV Workstream coordinator Miguel Herrero Cangas

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How Agri-PV can support the EU clean energy transition in rural communities 

New Finance workstream formally launched

By Merce Labordena, Senior Policy Advisory, @SolarPowerMerce

Photo: © Shutterstock

Europe is committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This unprecedented challenge requires high levels of ambition and climate mainstreaming across all key pillars of the European Green Deal.

Central to the success of the European Green Deal is the EU’s commitment to mobilising €1 trillion in funding in sustainable investments over the next decade. While the EU will allocate 30% of the EU budget to climate-friendly investment, and funds are expected to flow from Just Transition funds, Invest EU and carbon trading, the private sector is still expected to play a crucial role in the transition to a greener economy.

During SolarPower Europe’s webinar ‘Shining Beyond Subsidies’, SolarPower Europe discussed with experts in sustainable finance about how we can bring solar to the next level of development in an era when public subsidies to solar are fading away. Central to the discussion was the need to rethink leadership, economics, energy systems and policy, and how sustainable finance is key to unlocking this paradigm – as highlighted by Jean-Pascal Pham-Ba, CEO of Scale and Spokesperson of the Terrawatt Initiative.

The EU is not alone in its commitment to transition to a greener economy. The European Investment Bank (EIB) – the EU Climate Bank, is committed to align its lending activities with the Paris Agreement. Key to the discussion was the role of solar as a mature and highly competitive technology, which is crucial to reach a climate neutral EU – as highlighted by Alessandro Boschi, Head Renewable Energy Division at the EIB. The EIB reaffirmed that it is ready to support solar projects through its entire range of financial tools and advisory services, crucial in bridging the investment gap and support investors.

SolarPower Europe’s Shining Beyond Subsidies webinar also announced the launch of SolarPower Europe’s Finance workstream, designed to provide adequate solutions for the solar industry and provide the most value to our members, building on our commitment to support the transition to a future for all Europeans where solar will shine stronger than ever.

How to unlock EU’s solar rooftop potential

By Kristina Thoring, Communications Director @SolarPowerKris

© Ernst Schweizer AG

On 22 May, SolarPower Europe held a webinar centred on the immense solar power generation potential of Europe’s vacant rooftops. The webinar was held in the context of SolarPower Europe’s Solar4Buildings campaign, which aims to have solar installed on all new and renovated buildings in the EU.

The webinar 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.

MEP Jutta Paulus, from the European Greens kicked off the webinar by stating the need to give citizens the right to produce and their  own electricity. He argued that we now have the opportunity to build a more resilient and participatory society where people can participate in the energy transition to be a part of a cleaner and more inclusive future.

MEP Pernille Weiss, from the EPP focused on how rooftop solar, together with other renewable technologies such as heat pumps, are part of the solution to the energy transition and can create new local jobs. Weiss also pointed out the need for upskilling and reskilling to carry out the transition,

Next in the webinar, Michael Sebanz, Director of Energy, Climate Change, and Housing for the Region of Styria, Austria gave an overview of Styria’s plans for more rooftop solar.  Sebanz revealed that that the region is now working on a spatial energy planning programme for PV, which would indicate where PV is best installed.  Styria is 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 followed next, giving a presentation on rooftop solar in the Balearic Islands. González explained that the Balearic Islands 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 law will help them achieve the Islands ambitious energy targets of 35% renewables by 2030 and 100% renewables by 2050.

Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe pointed out the need to install more solar PV on rooftops. She stated that the EU’s building stock currently accounts for 36% of the regions CO2 emissions and that  installing solar on available rooftop space could save up to 7 million tonnes of CO2 each year.  Beauvais pointed out that a pan-European solar rooftop programme should be considered a pillar of the upcoming Renovation Wave to decarbonise our buildings whilst creating new green jobs in the EU.

To learn more about SolarPower Europe’s Solar4Buildings campaign, click here.  Sign the petition to have solar installed on all new and renovated buildings here.

Related articles:

Solar buildings: Harvesting the EU’s built environment for climate and industrial leadership

New Year, More Solar: Austria pledges to fit 1 million roofs with solar as part of 11 TWh solar installation by 2030

GET.invest launches Covid-19 window

The current pandemic caused by the disease Covid-19 threatens the viability of many de-central energy actors directly and indirectly through economic impacts. In a survey of businesses and project developers supported by GET.invest’s Finance Catalyst, the main challenges named were decrease in revenue, shortage of working capital, HR concerns and supply chain suspension. 57% assumed that they would almost immediately face disruption to their business or market.

To respond to this challenge and to contribute to a stable renewable energy sector for both its end-users and suppliers, GET.invest has created fast-track access to its Finance Catalyst to help renewable energy projects and businesses navigate the crisis. In this way, the programme reacts to results from its client survey showing that services mostly requested at this point are assistance with introduction to programmes or funds designed to assist Covid-19 affected companies (81%), assistance with strategic approaches to financial forecasting (46%), as well as support with the review of business models (35%).

The Covid-19 window provides project and business developers with fast-tracked access to the Finance Catalyst advisory team to help adapt operations to the effects of the crisis. Support is vailable in the areas of investment strategy, structuring support, access to finance and transaction support. The application process is now open at (GET.invest’s Covid-19 window was presented at SolarPower Europe’s webinar “The Impact of Covid-19 on the African Solar Sector”. Click here to go to the recording.)

GET.invest will implement the Covid-19 window in close consultation with stakeholders and partners, for instance the COVID Energy Access Action Network, and in close contact with financiers.

Photo of the Month

By Kristina Thoring, Communications Director @SolarPowerKris

Solar in a field of wild flowers © Fenris Wolf/ Shutterstock

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