300 solar industry and policy leaders are meeting on 7-8 March in Brussels at the SolarPower Summit 2017, the annual flagship event of the European solar sector association SolarPower Europe, to discuss the needs of the solar industry in Europe to be able to contribute to the EU’s goal of becoming a leader in this field. James Watson, CEO of Solar Power Europe, stated, “Solar is one of the lowest-cost power generation sources today, and this is true for Europe. The European Union is not harvesting the sun as much it could and should – it’s time to change that!” While annual global solar installations grew by around 50% to an all-time record number of 76.2 GW in 2016, European demand decreased by over 21% to 6.7 GW last year, according to the latest market research from SolarPower Europe. Led by China, Asia’s PV market share was over 66% in 2016, US demand for new solar capacity was more than twice as large as in Europe.
“The European solar industry is ready to take a larger share of the global market, but we need an open trade policy that supports the growth of solar in Europe and a clean tech industrial policy that supports the growth of solar jobs,” emphasised Watson. Solar power prices in Europe have reached unprecedented low levels – and continue to decrease. In German PV tenders, average solar power prices have reduced by around one quarter in only 1.5 years. The lowest winning bid even reached 6ct per kWh in February. Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe said, “Southern European countries could generate solar power at around 3ct per kWh in 2017/18 – that’s a level hardly any other technology can meet, but we need a reliable governance system to steer investment into solar power plants. With the Clean Energy Package for all Europeans, the EU has the chance to make its energy supply fit for the future.
Alexandre Roesch, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe stated, “The European Commission’s proposed Clean Energy Package is a good starting point. If it will result in market rules that support the energy transition and enable a flexible system that puts prosumers at its core, then we have the grounds for making solar great again.” On 8 March, the second day of the SolarPower Summit, the Task Forces of SolarPower Europe are inviting attendees to discuss their work and policy asks in the fields of solar & storage, digitalization, trade, eco-design or corporate sourcing in regards to the Clean Energy Package. Bruce Douglas, COO of Solar Power Europe said, “In our new corporate sourcing campaign we see the commitment of a quickly growing number of corporations to switch to 100% renewables. We believe that a goal of at least 35% renewables by 2030 is adequate for the EU, rather than the 27% proposed.”