9 July 2020, Brussels – SolarPower Europe organised the first virtual conference of the ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’. The initiative, launched in May by SolarPower Europe, and coordinated with strategic partners ESMC, ETIP-PV, IPVF, and VDMA, aims to accelerate the deployment of solar PV manufacturing projects in Europe to strengthen European leadership in renewable technologies and contribute to the reindustrialisation of the continent, supporting a European green recovery.
The conference included 10 presentations from shovel-ready European solar manufacturing projects, featuring manufacturing and innovation of cells, modules and wafers, which represents more than 20,000 new jobs in Europe. The projects were presented to European Ministers, EU policymakers, and stakeholders.
At the Solar Manufacturing Conference, Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Minister for Energy of the Republic of Lithuania, said: “All of Europe is responsible for the new industrial renaissance, which will involve reform in three key areas: financing, administrative procedures, and state aid. This industrial renaissance will result in a tremendous growth of renewables in our energy system, and a rebirth of the renewables industry in our states to make Europe green, competitive, and sustainable. For this to become a reality we call on the European Commission to recognise solar and wind as strategic value chains, and for representatives of renewable industries to be included in the upcoming Industrial Forum. This will ensure that the cleanest and most cost-effective technologies get the support and recognition they require to lead the energy transition. The ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’ provides the momentum we need to develop future-oriented solutions today.”
Claude Turmes, Minister for Energy and for Spatial Planning of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, said: “The pandemic has revealed Europe’s dependency on manufacturing from external countries. However, this need not be the case in the solar sector, since processing costs for cells has come down and European manufacturers now have the competitive edge. What we need to ensure is that these innovative solar manufacturing projects receive the necessary financing. Solar has proven itself as a strategic asset – without PV production, Europe will depend on external countries and sacrifice energy autonomy and geopolitical independence – at a time when solar is set to become the largest power generation source.”
Barbara Botos, Deputy Minister of State for Climate Policy, Republic of Hungary, stated: “In order to successfully transition to a climate-neutral economy, it is highly important to strengthen the supply and value chains upstream and downstream in Europe. Hungary is a solar country, dedicated to accelerating solar’s deployment with ambitious targets for renewable energy. We look forward to this solar manufacturing boom in Europe which can pave the way for a sustainable energy future.”
Piotr Czopek, Director of Renewable Energy Department of the Ministry of Climate, Republic of Poland, said: “COVID-19 has shown us that we are vulnerable to logistical problems with industrial shut-downs in countries outside of the EU. In order to ensure that any kind of crisis will not threaten European manufacturing, we need to strengthen industries within the EU, including building a strong, innovative, and cost-effective solar PV industry. Poland is ready to step up its solar ambition and we now hope to create a web of producers within EU to achieve the European Green Deal’s goals, with a strong position of the Polish PV industry.”
Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economics, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, said: “Already today, solar energy is an essential source of green energy in our region. In order to decarbonise our energy system and industry, we need to accelerate the roll-out of solar projects as soon as possible. Innovation is a driving force in making solar panels more cost-competitive and scalable. We have the interest, need, and resources to make this happen and thus seek close partnerships for the next generation of PV manufacturing on the European level, too.”
Andrew McDowell, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, said “The European Investment Bank – as the EU Climate Bank – commits to deploy its full suite of advisory and financing instruments to support the development and deployment in Europe of the next generation of solar technologies.”
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented: “The first conference of the ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’ revealed the impressive potential of the European solar PV manufacturing industry, which proved that it is already developing state-of-the art technologies and creating thousands of jobs, fully in line with the goals of the European Green Deal. As Europe focuses on a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, European solar PV manufacturing is an opportunity to invest in a strategic technology of the future – increasing our energy security while at the same time creating new jobs and sustainable growth. We are excited to start a constructive dialogue with European member states and partners, but this is only the beginning: the Accelerator, which at the moment gathers 40+ participating organisations, will continue to support more industrial projects and is committed to delivering the future of European solar PV manufacturing.”
Eicke Weber, President of European Solar Manufacturing Council, said: “The first ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’ meeting is now the reference for the renaissance of Europe’s solar industry. Important Ministers from all over Europe highlighted their interest and ongoing efforts to get projects, installations, and industry in their country for a future-minded energy independency of their countries. Claude Turmes made it clear: a European solar industry is an essential strategic asset for the EU. Support and vision from the European Commission and depending structures, as well as from member governments, is needed to facilitate access to funding for globally-competitive solar manufacturing, to establish a complete value chain of this key technology for the energy future of Europe. We are on a good path: the Commission’s dictum of ‘Together Stronger’ is what we have all together shown with more than 20,000 direct jobs at stake by the 10 presenting initiatives. Very promising!”
Roch Drozdowski-Strehl, CEO of IPVF, said: “We are very enthusiastic to work with the ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’ platform and put forth concrete initiatives that positively accompany the solar PV strategic value chain in its future expected growth. We strongly believe that scaling up research and innovation investments is key to fostering the development of solar manufacturing in Europe and untapping its full potential, from both an environmental and economic point of view. IPVF and the 120+ actors of the ‘Solar Europe Now’ coalition are committed to developing cutting-edge industrial production processes and breakthrough technologies that pave the way for the strategic take-off of the solar industry in Europe.”
The Solar Manufacturing Accelerator Conference included the following speakers: Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Minister for Energy of the Republic of Lithuania; Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economy, Innovation, Digitalisation, and Energy of the German State North Rhine-Westphalia; Dr. Barbara Botos, Deputy Minister of State for Climate Policy of the Republic of Hungary; Piotr Czopek, Director of Renewable Energy Department of the Ministry of Climate, Republic of Poland; Claude Turmes, Minister for Energy and for Spatial Planning of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Andrew McDowell; and Mark Nicklas, Head of Unit Industrial Strategy and Value Chains, DG GROW, European Commission. The Conference also had attendants from the parliaments and administrations of 12 European member states.
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