EU Sets Course for Solar Energy Growth Amid Manufacturing Challenges – SolarQuarter

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At the EU Energy Council meeting held on Monday, March 4, 2024, discussions centered around the European solar industry, focusing on the dual goals of accelerating solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment while protecting the continent’s solar manufacturing sector from the pressures of low-cost imports.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, advocated for policies that reinforce solar energy as a key player in Europe’s energy transition. The industry group highlighted the rapid growth of solar in Europe, emphasizing the sector’s transition into a more mature phase facing complex challenges.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, in a press conference following the meeting, outlined the current state of the solar industry, noting the rapid deployment of solar PV systems alongside the challenges faced by European manufacturers due to the influx of inexpensive imports. Commissioner Simson announced plans to work on a Solar Power Pledge, encouraging member states and stakeholders to commit to actions that bolster European solar production.

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The meeting, which included key figures such as Deputy Director at DG ENER Mechthild Worsdorfer, Greek Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy Alexandra Sdoukou, Belgian Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten, and Austrian Minister for Energy Leonore Gewessler, concluded with a call for increased cooperation to meet ambitious solar targets.

SolarPower Europe’s Hemetsberger reflected on the evolution of the solar sector, citing the EU Solar Strategy and REPowerEU as game-changers. Despite significant growth, Hemetsberger noted that current commitments fall short of the EU’s 750 GW target by 2030, with member states aiming for 591 GW of solar capacity. She emphasized the importance of full implementation of permitting rules, the role of agrisolar, and the necessity for enhanced grid flexibility and action plans.

Hemetsberger also addressed the challenges facing European solar manufacturers, urging for immediate support to achieve the EU’s 30 GW manufacturing target by 2030. She advocated against trade defense measures, suggesting instead a robust industrial strategy with clear ESG market access standards.

The discussions at the EU Energy Council set the stage for ongoing dialogue and collaboration to achieve Europe’s solar energy goals, with SolarPower Europe playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of the industry. The meeting took place against the backdrop of #SolarWeek and the annual Solar Power Summit in Brussels.

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