European Commission Signs Solar Charter To Boost Manufacturing Resilience

Highlights :

  • The demand for solar modules in Europe is covered by imports from a single supplier, China. It created short-term risks for the resilience of the value chain and long-term risks for price stability for solar panels.
  • This unsustainable situation is weakening the viability of existing European production and jeopardizes planned investments for new manufacturing plants.
European Commission Signs Solar Charter To Boost Manufacturing Resilience European Commission Signs Solar Charter, Boost Manufacturing Resilience

The European Commission has signed the European Solar Charter to support Europe’s solar manufacturing base. In the charter, the signatories commit to the support of Europe’s solar manufacturing base.

The charter was signed in Brussels and was drafted by the European Commission. Last year, 56 GW of solar PV were installed in the European Union (EU), two-thirds of it on rooftops, empowering consumers and protecting them from high electricity prices and reducing land use. The installations in 2022 and 2023 saved the equivalent of 15 billion cubic meters of Russian gas imports in total, mitigating the risk of disruption of gas supplies to the Union. In addition, the sector provides around 650,000 jobs, 90% of these on the deployment side, and is projected to increase to around 1,000,000 by 2030. Achieving the 2030 EU target of at least 42.5% renewable energy by 2030, with an ambition to reach 45%, will require further acceleration in the deployment of renewable energy, including solar energy.

The demand for solar modules in Europe is covered almost wholly by imports from a single supplier, China. It created short-term risks for the resilience of the value chain and long-term risks for price stability for solar panels. Access to affordable solar modules from a diversity of sources as well as a resilient, sustainable, and competitive European solar value chain are necessary.

However, European solar module manufacturers have recently faced challenges due to the combination of import dependency and a sharp drop in the prices of imported panels. In 2023, the solar photovoltaic sector in the EU and globally saw the prices of the panels plummet from ca. 0.20 EUR/W to less than 0.12 EUR/W. This unsustainable situation is weakening the viability of existing European production and jeopardizes planned investments for new manufacturing plants. As a consequence, some European companies have either reduced their operations, announced that they would prioritize production in other international markets, in particular the US, or even announced their closure.

To this end, the European Solar Charter sets out immediate actions to be taken by the Commission, the Member States, and the representatives of the solar PV value chain, in particular 2 wholesale, distribution, and manufacturing parts, to be implemented to ensure full compliance with EU competition law and state aid rules.

The undersigning Member States and solar industry representatives, respectively COMMIT to implementing as a matter of priority the following actions:

Promote a resilient supply of high-quality sustainable solar PV products in Europe, including through:

  • In the framework of renewable energy auctions or other relevant support schemes, rapid early implementation of the relevant NZIA provisions through the application of, in addition to price criteria, ambitious non-price criteria, including resilience, sustainability, responsible business conduct, ‘ability to deliver”, innovation and cybersecurity criteria.
  • In the framework of public procurement of solar energy products: rapid early implementation of the relevant provisions in the NZIA and in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive through the application of, in addition to price criteria, ambitious resilience, sustainability, social, ‘ability to deliver”, innovation or cybersecurity criteria; ensure the relevant provisions in the Foreign Subsidies Regulation are fully implemented.
  • The promotion of innovative forms of solar energy deployment, such as agri-PV, floating solar, infrastructure-integrated PV, vehicle-integrated PV, or building-integrated PV with a specific focus on innovative business models such as turnkey projects for PV integration in buildings, including through the removal of possible regulatory and permitting barriers as well as the adaptation of existing public support schemes or the creation of specific public support schemes.
  • Create favorable framework conditions for manufacturing facilities of PV products and for additional investments, to support the achievement of the manufacturing benchmark in the NZIA, including through rapid early implementation of relevant NZIA provisions on permitting and net-zero acceleration areas, improved availability of manufacturing skills and engagement across the value chain to improve the availability of recycled materials.
  • A joint commitment across the EU solar PV value chain to continuous innovation, technological excellence, responsible business conduct, cybersecurity, sustainability, diversification of supply chains, and social integration.
  • Consider using all available EU funding opportunities as well as flexibilities under the State aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework (TCTF) to provide support for new investments in the solar energy supply chain.
  • Engage in the Member States Task Force under the European Solar Industry Alliance to exchange best practices on the application of non-price criteria, provide support to the industry and strategic projects, and on the promotion of innovative forms of solar energy deployment
  • Include therefore in the portfolios of the relevant market players, such as wholesalers, distributors, and installers, and because of improving the competitiveness of the Union and diversification of supplies, solar PV products commensurate to the EU’s manufacturing capacity meeting high resilience, sustainability, and responsible business conduct criteria. This includes custom-made and innovative solar PV products as well as products for innovative forms of deployment (such as building-integrated PV, agri-3 PV, floating solar, infrastructure-integrated PV, or vehicle-integrated PV), provide specific visibility to key qualities and origin of these products and gradually increase their volume.
  • Maintain and, where possible, expand the current production capacity, in line with the expected growing demand for their products, based on the public and private commitments adopted in this Charter.
  • In the case of solar PV products offtakes, incorporate resilience, sustainability, responsible business conduct, ‘ability to deliver”, innovation, and cybersecurity considerations in their strategies, including through cooperation with manufacturers.
    The European Commission INTENDS to:
  • Further facilitate access to EU funding for solar PV manufacturing projects under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, structural funds, the Innovation Fund, the Modernisation Fund, and Horizon Europe, including through the Strategic Technologies European Platform (STEP). The Innovation Fund has selected solar PV manufacturing projects for a total of €400 million and made €1.4 billion available in its 2023 call for clean tech manufacturing, including solar PV.
  • Work with the European Investment Bank to reinforce its support for investments in the solar manufacturing value chain, including through InvestEU.
  • Support Member States in the inclusion of transparent, non-discriminatory, and objective non-price criteria in renewable energy auctions, in public procurement as well as the promotion of innovative forms of solar energy deployment, including through recommendations, guidance, and the structured dialogue in the appropriate fora, including the Community of Public Buyers for Sustainable Solar PV for public procurement.
  • Explore, in cooperation with Member States through the Joint European Forum the possibility of an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) to support innovations and their first industrial deployment in the solar PV manufacturing value chain. Continue providing support to the European Solar PV Industry Alliance given the achievement of its objectives, and directly engage with Member State authorities in the dedicated task force to share best practices on demand-side measures and support to the sector and strategic projects.
  • Continue to cooperate with third countries to enhance the resilience and diversification of supply chains via existing and future partnerships, dialogues, and trade agreements and fora.
  • In collaboration with Member States and social partners, facilitate the expansion of skills availability for the EU solar sector, including for manufacturing, through inter alia the Solar Academy and the Renewable Energy Skills Partnership.
  • Propose forward-looking Ecodesign and Energy Labelling regulations for solar PV products to establish, based on a robust methodology, appropriate environmental and energy performance standards for the sector.
  • Promote the acceleration of deployment by supporting Member States in the swift implementation of the revised Renewable Energy Directive and by implementing the Grids Action Plan.
  • Assess all evidence of alleged unfair practices put forward by the industry or from other independent sources.
    All signatories COMMIT to monitor future developments in the sector and contribute to a fair and competitive international environment in the solar sector.
  • One year following the signature of the Charter, the Commission will review the implementation of the adopted commitments.

"Want to be featured here or have news to share? Write to info[at]saurenergy.com
      SUBSCRIBE NEWS LETTER
Scroll