Presented to EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, by European solar CEOs during a roundtable exchange at the recent SolarPower Summit, ‘Raising Solar Ambition for the European Union’s Energy Independence’ acts as SolarPower Europe’s official response to the consultation for the upcoming EU Solar Strategy. The paper sets out what solar power hopes to deliver for the EU’s climate goals and energy security in the short-, medium-, and long-term, as well as what is needed to get there.
In the short term, to support immediate divestment from Russian gas, and with the right framework for the rooftop segment, solar can deliver 39 GW of additional EU energy capacity for the coming winter. This represents 23.3 GW of solar rooftops and 15.7 GW of utility-scale solar installations. SolarPower Europe is currently surveying the sector to understand what additional utility-scale solar is possible if shovel-ready projects are able to be fast-tracked.
Real solar acceleration can happen in the medium term. The current REPowerEU solar market 2030 projection of 525 GW falls short of the true potential of solar expansion, according to SolarPower Europe, with industry pre-war, business-as-usual scenario predictions of 672 GW. With the Russian war on Ukraine, and the increasingly acute climate crisis, the paper presents an accelerated high scenario, foreseeing over one TW of total EU solar capacity by 2030, and details the eight actions that will build the necessary foundations for the European solar Terawatt age. This includes accelerating the deployment of projects; developing the skills and workforce needed to deploy solar projects; and reinvesting in domestic manufacturing.
Aristotelis Chantavas, President of SolarPower Europe said: “The continent is facing war and geopolitical instability at a time when the climate emergency grows ever more intense. Europeans are just beginning to emerge from a global pandemic, already struggling to manage gas-driven soaring energy prices. Solar energy offers immediate relief – with potentially 39 GW of additional capacity for this coming winter – and long-term sustainable solutions. One TW of solar in 2030 can replace all Russian gas imports to the EU. We have no more time to waste, we must raise EU solar ambition.”
Naomi Chevillard, Head of Regulatory Affairs at SolarPower Europe said: “We need to develop the right frameworks to put Europe on track of the Terawatt Era and provide the political signals to the industry to tap the true potential of solar. In the short-term, current market interventions (in response to steep energy prices) must be time-bound and limited in nature – or we risk preserving investment conditions for a fossil-fuel-based system.”
Raffaele Rossi, Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe said: “Solar is the fastest-growing EU energy source – adding about 26 GW of capacity in 2021, which is 136 per cent more than the 11 GW added by the second-fastest-growing energy, wind. It is more than all new other renewable, fossil fuel, and nuclear capacities combined in 2021. Basing the necessary energy transition on solar power’s exponential growth is the responsible and right path to take. We just need to remove the remaining barriers and set an ambitious solar target.”