The European PV Market Is Picking Up, But Can Its Photovoltaic Manufacturing Industry Be Revived?

- Mar 29, 2019-

European PV

Since the launch of the first commercial solar photovoltaic installation in Germany in the 1990s, about 110 GW of solar power has been installed in Europe, accounting for about 23% of the installed capacity of solar power installed worldwide. However, during the period from 2013 to 2017, the European PV market was sluggish, with an average installed capacity of no more than 4-6 GW per year, behind the United States, China and India. Now, all this is facing changes, and Europe has plans to re-establish its leadership. In the 1920s, with the development of unsubsidized solar energy, energy smart homes and communities, corporate greening and zero-emission hydrogen, Europe may re-emerge as a global power in the era of solar-powered energy systems.

GTM Research estimates that by 2022, 10 to 17 GW of electricity will be installed each year in Europe, bringing the cumulative capacity to 182 GW. Bloomberg expects European installed capacity to increase to 1,400 GW by 2050. By 2050, solar energy will be Europe's largest source of electricity generation, with its share of total consumption increasing from about 5% in 2018 to 36% in 2050. The main driving force for renewed optimism is the goals set by EU countries. In 2030, the greenhouse gas emissions of the African continent will be reduced by 40%, and by 2050 by 80%. Most observers expect the EU to set more ambitious goals later this year.

Spain is an outstanding example of the European solar revival. Since the collapse of the “solar bubble” about 10 years ago, the country has installed an average of no more than 100-200 megawatts of solar PV per year. The Spanish Photovoltaic Industry Association plans to increase 3 GW of photovoltaic power per year in the next few years, increasing total installed capacity from 5 GW in 2018 to 42 GW in 2030, helping Spain achieve its national goal of 74% renewable energy.

There are three main drivers for the revival of solar energy in Europe: national emission reduction targets are becoming more ambitious, and the rebound in carbon prices has increased the competitiveness of solar energy and the application of digital technology. But how will the revival of European solar demand affect employment and technological innovation in Europe? According to a report by Ernst & Young (EY), there will be more than 500,000 new solar-related jobs by 2030. There is no doubt that Europe will continue to achieve excellent results in the areas of software, services and installation. But what about manufacturing?

At present, almost all solar cells installed in Europe are imported from China and other East Asian countries and regions. Many European countries worry that this model will be repeated in the field of energy storage batteries, considering the development of industrial strategies including the European manufacturers. Some protection. In terms of energy storage batteries, the European Commission and recent initiatives in Germany and Poland have targeted manufacturing. France's successful introduction of carbon footprint as one of the options for selecting solar bidders is now receiving attention at the European level. At present, the solar component trade does not consider whether the electricity required for photovoltaic product manufacturing comes from a polluted coal power plant. If you consider the life cycle carbon footprint of photovoltaic products, it will help the manufacturing industry return to Europe.