17 Feb 2023, 13:05
Benjamin Wehrmann

PV sector calls on Germany to facilitate solar industry 'renaissance' in Europe

Clean Energy Wire

A government-sponsored "renaissance of Europe's solar industry" is needed to ensure secure access to resources and hardware components that are essential for the roll-out of the technology in line with international climate targets, German industry association BSW Solar said. The lobby group called for a public "investment booster" to enable the country to triple the share of solar PV in the electricity mix to almost 30 percent within the next decade, and facilitate the construction of solar giga fabs in the country. "Disrupted supply chains during the coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis have heightened the senses for the need for a high degree of technology sovereignty and industrial self-reliance," BSW Solar head Carsten Körnig said.

To make the industry more resilient to trade problems, especially with respect to solar wafer and solar cell production, import dependencies must be reduced and remaining manufacturers in Germany strengthened after losing the bulk of their former business to Chinese competitors, according to BSW. "The gaps in solar power’s industrial production chain have to be closed now by means of a determined industrial policy initiative," Körnig said, adding that decisions made now will determine whether Germany’s solar industry can make a comeback. Extensive subsidy schemes in the U.S., notably the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and also in India and China would already lure much-needed capital out of Europe, the lobby group leader warned. While the trend towards trade-distorting subsidies is worrying, Europe must not fall behind by eschewing them alone, he added. A vibrant domestic market is a prerequisite for the European solar industry to regain its strength and become able to withstand competition on its own, which should be bolstered by state contracts to cushion risks and reduce scale-up costs, he argued.

Business expectations in the industry had reached a new record high in early 2023, after the government announced greatly increased renewable power deployment targets for 2030. However, industry representatives have repeatedly warned that the reliance on imports could put the expansion at risk. In order to achieve its renewable power targets, Germany will have to increase the annual buildout threefold to 22 gigawatts by 2026, while other countries in Europe also plan to greatly expand their capacities. The government has said it is considering support mechanisms for the renewable power industry through resource supply assistance and guarantees for renewable power installation producers.

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