Solar Europe Initiative funding: positive but incomplete way forward

(PresseBox) ( Brussels, )
Communication on the financing of low carbon technologies: the European Commission positively recognises the strong potential of solar photovoltaic technology but does not sufficiently reflect industry R&D and demonstration priorities; furthermore, significant uncertainty remains on the financing model.

Today the European Commission (EC) presented its communication on the financing of low carbon technologies. It proposes an ambitious budget for the Solar Europe Industry Initiative, including photovoltaics (PV), but does not sufficiently address the challenges the European PV industry will have to face until 2020. Technology roadmaps to clarify the way forward are very much awaited.

“We are very glad that the EC explicitly acknowledges the strong potential of solar photovoltaic technology. By 2020, provided that the appropriate framework conditions are met, PV could contribute as much as 12% of EU electricity demand” said Adel El Gammal, Secretary General of EPIA. “However we regret that the communication does not properly reflect the current state of development of PV technology” added El Gammal. The technology is evolving extremely fast: with an EU market of 4.5 GW in 2008, PV represented 19 % of new installed power capacity in Europe. Already next year, PV will be competitive with retail electricity prices in some regions of Europe.

The Solar Europe Industry Initiative will require significant co-financing from the Industry, the EU and Member States. But a lot of uncertainty remains on their respective contribution and the level of funds which will be made available from the public sector. In the current context of economical crisis and risk aversion, it is essential to stimulate private investment and the sharing risk with large public funding and ensuring an appropriate European industrial policy framework.

The EC is putting too much emphasis on long-term research and should better recognise the need for accelerating the development of existing commercial and pre-commercial PV technologies. Of course, long-term research should be carried out in parallel through other instruments.

In addition the integration of PV in the grid as well as into the urban and building environment is essential.

The new initiative on Smart Cities is highly welcomed although it should not only promote energy efficiency measures but also consider the key role of renewable energies in reducing the carbon footprint of cities. Solar photovoltaic will play a key role in boosting the development of green buildings and electrical cars.

In the recent study SET For 2020, EPIA concluded that boosting PV deployment to cover up to 12% of EU electricity demand by 2020, in addition to contributing to meet EU sustainability goals, would provide huge macro-economical benefits to the EU society including the creation of an estimated 1.4 million jobs in Europe and saving hundreds millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

Download the Communication COM (2009) 519/4: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/technology/set_plan/doc/2009_comm_investing_development_low_carbon_technologies.pdf
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