Solar manufacturing renaissance in Europe


According to the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), now there is a momentum for Europe not only to ensure enough of PV installations as a part of the green transformation, but also to create favorable conditions for PV manufacturing in order to benefit from added value in Europe. By creating an opportunity for the PV industry to supply the European market, Europe can be enabled to take control of its energy transition and better its resilience.

The ESMC believes that 75%of European PV installations should be manufactured in Europe, and two thirds of the production exported outside Europe.

This would result in about 60 GW of manufacturing capacities and its full production utilization in Europe by 2026. As a consequence, firstly, the current €7.4 billion trade deficit of PV cells and modules would be transformed into local PV manufacturing value of about €50 billion by 2026, and secondly, around 178 000 additional jobs would be created by 2026.
In 2019, Europe only produced about 11% of the PV silicon, 1% of ingot and wafers, only 0.4% of the cells and 4% of the modules in a global context. As Europe currently has about 15% of the global installation market, it is clear that European manufacturing only contributes to a fraction of the continents demand for PV installations, while maintaining a high standard both in terms of climate footprint and quality, according to ESMC.

Based on the current market situation, there is an excellent window of opportunity of 2–4 years to rebuild a competitive PV manufacturing value chain, because of global technological shifts from PERC cells to other technologies.

The combination of European Green Deal targets, a post-Covid-19 environment and the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) creates unique opportunities for Europe to strengthen and restore the PV value chains and industries. An amount of €20 billion (or 3%) of the total RRF financing would ensure a real breakthrough for the European PV manufacturing industry, leading to all positive consequences mentioned above. The European Recovery and Resilience Facility aims to make €672.5 billion in loans and grants available to support reforms and investments undertaken by Member States. The proposed support should be directed towards three key pillars: PV manufacturing equipment and infrastructure, R&D and new products deployment, and dedicated special financial funds.

As PV is a clean and powerful solution to provide jobs, economic growth, and European energy security as well as address climate change, the RRF could catalyze a real chance for the PV industry in Europe for accelerated growth.