Financial support for PV manufacturing facilities in Europe is ‘urgently needed’, say solar CEOs

Solar cell testing at a Meyer Burger factory in Germany. Photo: Meyer Burger.

The CEOs of companies such as First Solar, BayWare and Meyer Burger have written to the European Commission (EC) calling for urgent action to support the redevelopment of European photovoltaic manufacturing.

In a letter sent yesterday to EC President Ursula von der Leyen, the CEOs of 12 European and American companies said that developing a strong European solar manufacturing value chain and decreasing import dependency ” will significantly enhance” the EC’s energy security ambitions.

They pointed to a recent International Energy Agency report which found that China has invested ten times more than Europe in new PV supply capacity since 2011, meaning that the country’s share of all PV module manufacturing steps – polysilicon, ingots, wafers, cells and modules – exceeds 80%.

In the letter, which was also signed by the CEO of trade body SolarPower Europe, the signatories said that ambitious and accelerated financial support for large-scale PV manufacturing projects in Europe “is urgently needed. , backed by competitive opex support for the entire supply chain. , in particular the energy-intensive production of polysilicon, ingots and wafers”.

They pointed to international measures that highlight the need for stronger European action to accelerate its participation in the global competition for solar PV value chains.

Signatories noted that the US Inflation Reduction Act is evidence of the country’s ambitions to relocate clean energy industries, adding that the legislation provides clear and tangible operating expenses and benefits. capital expenditures that ensure predictable operational support for almost ten years.

They also highlighted an innovative auction design in India that brings clarity to the solar industry. The country recently released guidelines for the second round of an incentive program that aims to add 65 GW of PV module manufacturing capacity.

To ensure Europe’s competitive participation within a globally diverse solar supply chain, the signatories urged the EC to replicate the EU’s chip law – which aims to bring the share of Europe in the world chip production capacity to 20%, against its current level of about 10% – for solar photovoltaic technology.

The CEOs also called for the promotion of solar PV generation in national resilience and recovery plans, which are part of NextGenerationEU, the EU’s response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the European economy and to prepare it for the green and digital transitions. .

The proposals follow warnings last week that PV manufacturing projects across Europe risk being mothballed due to soaring electricity prices. Consulting firm Rystad Energy said the energy-intensive nature of solar PV manufacturing processes is leading some operators to temporarily close or abandon generation facilities.

Maxeon Solar Technologies has since confirmed PV technology that it closed a PV module manufacturing plant in France, citing a difficult pricing environment.

The signatories of the letter said: “The challenges facing solar manufacturers in Europe are many…Europe continues to face soaring electricity prices – a concrete threat not only to the remaining solar manufacturing capacity of the EU, but also for any ambition to bring the solar value chain towards Europe.

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