The European Commission aims to make a large-scale solar power breakthrough and stimulate Europe’s solar industry accordingly.
According to the plan, a package of proposals will be published next week in order to reduce the dependency of member states on Russia. “Solar energy and heat are key to gradually end the EU’s dependence on Russian gas,” the draft text states.
Costs of solar panel cells have dropped more than 80 percent over the past decade, but the technology produced only 5 percent of EU electricity in 2020. The share of solar energy in heat production was only 1.5 percent.
With this plan, the “European Solar Roofs Initiative” will be launched against the risk of gas-fired electricity and heating cuts in homes, offices, shops, and factories.
All institutions will be required to take steps within a year
Ilan targets the roofs of institutional buildings of EU and national governments in the first place. These institutions will be required to take steps to use solar panels within a year.
This will force countries to use EU funds, launch support programs for roof panels and install solar in all eligible public buildings by 2025.
Another part of the plan is to bring governments and educational institutions together to focus on developing the competencies and skills of solar industry workers. To do this, create an “EU Solar Industry Alliance” and support manufacturing investments. Use the EU budget and the carbon market “innovation fund” for this support.
There are about 14 planned large-scale solar power generation projects in Europe, but some require billions of euros in financing to get them to market.
Chinese competition hinders the development of industry in Europe
China provided 75 percent of EU solar panel imports in 2020. Despite the EU applying anti-dumping and anti-subsidy controls to solar panels from China between 2013 and 2018, Europe is having a hard time competing with China with its own large-scale factories.
EU Greens MP Michael Bloss urges Brussels to get involved using legal means rather than voluntary schemes:
“Solar energy conversion has never been discussed in concrete terms. For example, new buildings may be legally required to have solar roofs on flat roofs, public buildings and supermarkets in Europe.”
The draft plan will also fine-tune EU law, accelerating the permitting period for renewable energy projects.