SolarPower Summit Recap: Day 2

It was a busy and engaging Day 2 of the SolarPower Summit, with topics including solar manufacturing, renewable hydrogen, corporate PPAs, and the fourth-annual Solar Startup Award, as well as the first Agrisolar Best Practices Guidelines.

The day kicked-off with a session on manufacturing. The EU is undergoing a solar manufacturing renaissance, and Kerstin Jorna, Director General of the European Commission’s DG GROW, presented the EU’s aim to increase the deployment of solar, with significant investment already allocated to boosting the solar industry. A big question on the table here was: how much money is needed to scale-up solar manufacturing to reach a target of 20 GW capacity by 2025? Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger, estimated the capex required to this to be around €5-6 billion. Financing became a key focus of this interesting discussion, which will be available to re-watch at the end of the Summit. 

As the European Green Deal means mainstreaming the European energy transition across all key sectors of the economy, including agriculture, the next session saw the much-awaited launch of the Agrisolar Best Practices Guidelines. Eva Vandest, Head of Public Affairs, Amarenco Group, and chair of the Agrisolar Workstream at SolarPower Europe, introduced the idea of the Sustainable Agriculture Concept (SAC), a concept with three levels of criteria to establish the best possible synergy between agricultural and solar. The session also noted the turnkey that is trust between all stakeholders, and the educational need to communicate the full value of combining agriculture and solar. Download the full report here.

Afterwards came a session focused on Solar4Businesses. Solar is not only the most cost-competitive energy source in history, but also becoming a key ally to support the competitiveness of EU businesses. From corporate PPAs to renewable hydrogen, this session looked at the solar-based solutions that are making green growth a European reality. The keynote speech was given by Ditte Juul-Jørgensen, Director-General for the European Commission’s energy secretariat, who detailed the various Commission strategies for the energy transition and made it clear that solar will play an important role in the Fit-for-55 package. MEP Jutta Paulus advocated for solar to be mandated on European rooftops and called for more innovative and widespread BIPV application. Ann Mettler, VP for Europe at the Breakthrough Energy, asked for a diversified approach to clean energy technologies, and to push for widespread application of technological innovations. She also noted the role Europe could have as a leader in renewable hydrogen. 

The penultimate session focused on Solar4Hydrogen. The session made it clear that although solar could supply more than 50% of Europe’s future energy demand by 2050, there are certain sectors where renewable hydrogen will play a key role, and this opens a significant market opportunity for solar in Europe. Carina Krastel, Commercial Director of the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center (EGHAC) at EIT InnoEnergy said we need to bring different partners and stakeholders to the table to coordinate: “We want to build from a value chain perspective, to share risks and benefits between stakeholders. This way the premium will be low, and we can create demand and market pull so that renewable hydrogen can fly without too many regulations.” Ulrik Stridbaek, VP, Head of Regulatory Affairs, Orsted expressed that “offtakers are very aware, prepared for and thoroughly looking intorenewable hydrogen”, giving the example of Nike seeking fully green transportation methods for their sneakers.

The day concluded with the award ceremony of our industry-respected Solar Startup Award. Four finalists gave presentations and were subjected to questioning from the jury. First up was Govinda Upadhyay, CEO of SmartHelio, which develops real-time and automated solutions to make solar plants greener and to increase performance.Second, Marian Breitenbücher, Managing Director of HighLine Technology, presented the company’s work reducing material consumption in the solar industry and increasing sustainability via their new process for the metallization of solar cells. Third, Andrew Bollinger, CEO & Co-Founder of Sympheny, spoke about empowering energy planners to drive the global energy transition: their platform supports optimised energy planning and management of sites from buildings to neighbourhoods, to entire cities. Finally, Laurent Coulot, CEO and Co-Founder of Insolight, presented his company that designs translucent solar modules with record-breaking efficiency, especially applicable for Agrisolar. The technology is based on a patented optical technology with an integrated tracking system. 

After voting from the audience, the winner was announced live on air: SmartHelio! They win a €5,000 cash prize (sponsored by Enerparc), a start-up exhibition at the Smarter E Europe 2021 Event (sponsored by Smarter E), 1-year membership to SolarPower Europe, and coaching from BeeFounders. 

Tomorrow is the final day of our SolarPower Summit, so make sure you attend to enjoy networking opportunities, the Solar4GlobalChange session, the release of our Solar Sustainability Benchmark, and the finale of the Solar Sustainability Award.

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