Up to EUR7 billion financial investment could be required to reach 20GW of solar module manufacturing capacity in Europe

May 11, 2021 06:24 PM ET
  • Europe's solar technology experts may need up to EUR7 billion (US$ 8.51 billion) in capital investment in order to scale up domestic production to be around the world affordable, however continued assistance will be important to maintain the sector in the long-term.
Up to EUR7 billion financial investment could be required to reach 20GW of solar module manufacturing capacity in Europe
Image: Meyer Burger

That's according to a panel of market leaders speaking as part of the online SolarPower Top today (11 May), held by trade body SolarPower Europe.

Christian Westermeier, vice president of advertising, sales and also application design at polysilicon expert Wacker, informed panelists that there is a "distinct chance" to develop an extensive production base that exceeds solar cells and trackers, a large quantity of which are made in the EU.

" Whether they are generating wafers, ingots, cells, modules, there is a distinct chance currently to reconstruct these supply chains," he stated. "We have to act quick to ramp up manufacturing capability."

European legislators have actually boosted efforts to recognize just how a residential supply chain can sustain the ever before enhancing demand for panels as well as components across the continent. German solar supplier as well as developer BayWa r.e. stated it took advantage of "brisk need" for modules throughout the initial quarter of the year, particularly from Europe, with Q1 revenues striking EUR662.1 million (US$ 800.1 million). The firm has actually currently opened new workplaces in Poland and an extra storage facility in the Netherlands this springtime to capitalise on rising sales. Switzerland-headquartered PV module manufacturer Meyer Burger, at the same time, formally introduced its brand-new range of heterojunction (HJ) solar modules for mass production in April, and is readied to open 2 brand-new manufacturing centers in Germany this month.

The European Commission last week published a revised commercial technique which highlights the following phases the industry will need to experience to decarbonise electricity grids while energy need remains to rise. Kerstin Jorna, director general of DG GROW, a team within the European Commission in charge of EU policy on the solitary market, market, entrepreneurship and also small companies, claimed there will be there will certainly be "20 times much more worldwide need for photovoltaic panels in the future". As it stands, she stated, photovoltaic panel manufacturing in Europe is anticipated to increase in between now and also 2030, and also triple by 2050. The EC's report kept in mind that the marketplace growth as well as surging demand for solar PV is a "vital possibility" for the bloc, and it invites initiatives to scale up solar manufacturing, such as the European Solar Campaign, released by SolarPower Europe and independent EU-formed development accelerator EIT InnoEnergy earlier this year to activate a return of the continent's production base.

Michael Schmela, executive expert and also head of market Knowledge at profession body SolarPower Europe, highlighted the preservation that already exists in conversations around future solar capability. "When people check out solar, they are in fact way too traditional. We have actually always seen that the sector was growing much, much faster than actually what was forecasted." The trade association projections that there may be around 34GW of solar capability throughout Europe in the next three years, and in order to fulfill the terms of the Paris Agreement, capacity would need to reach 7TW by 2050.

" It's big what we need to do and also we have to get to completely different measurements."

Staminas and also weaknesses

There are some areas that European-headquartered organizations have already managed to get a significant share of the marketplace in. Eduardo De San Nicolás Juárez, primary approach police officer of tracker firm Soltec, claimed that although the US holds a 50% share of the solar tracker market, most other firms are European, "as well as we are in an excellent setting globally".

Module producer Meyer Burger has actually spent greatly in new production facilities and supplying storehouses over the past 12 months in an initiative to satisfy the increased demand for items triggered by the continent's new environment targets and also sped up deployment. Both of the business's brand-new centers opening this year are anticipated to produce around 400MW of modules. Chief executive Dr Gunter Erfurt informed panelists that this is, nevertheless, a "drop in the ocean" contrasted to what is required to make certain Europe's production base can complete on an international stage. "Today, as we all understand, we are depending on Asia, mostly in China, as much as a level of greater than 90%.".

If producers can continue to scale up, supported by EU policy changes, he claimed Europe can grow its production base to gigawatt levels that will after that add more to deployment on the continent.

Yet Erfurt claimed it is inadequate for the industry to concentrate on generating much more cells, as all solar components are a "must".

The belief was echoed by Westermeier, that said that it is not just cells and modules the sector has to consider, yet likewise ingots and also wafers, which are presently "an extremely essential missing web link in the supply chain where we are providing our polysilicon to." Presently, 95% of ingots and wafers come from China, he said, but Wacker's current polysilicon capability could "conveniently cover the whole European market, but we have to supply to China.".

" I assume this, this shows what sort of possibility we would certainly have in Europe to reconstruct the PV supply chain, likewise to see to it that the European Commission as well as European culture is finally attaining the targets we want to have applying the Green Deal.".

Financing the boom

Erfurt claimed that Europe's solar manufacturing sector is "ready" to reclaim market share due to the fact that, although the substantial bulk of modules are shipped from China now, "we have actually never shed the technical management". The European Commission, he stated, has helped to support ongoing r & d within the market to establish a lot more reliable technologies, yet business need additional financial investment to bring their developments to business scale. He recommended that, if Europe might get to a module manufacturing capacity of 20GW "we would seek regarding EUR5 to EUR6 billion" of capital investment. Westermeier stated that number is likely closer to EUR7 billion to accumulate a supply chain to that size, however "what you also have to check out later on is obviously, to maintain that running as well as competitive." Functional expenditures in competing markets in Asia, he said, are supported as some "provide extremely eye-catching framework conditions to their business to endure in this fierce worldwide competitors." Jorna included that the European Commission in evaluating state help standards to aid not only scale up solar manufacturing, but guarantee it is sustainable in the future. "We are definitely worried regarding a level playing field," she claimed.

Soltec chief Juárez, nonetheless, included that ESG investment from companies, utilities and banks as well as funds considering "greening their pipes" could assist to sustain business development, yet this relies upon companies like Soltec, which rely greatly on sourcing steel, to be able to show a low-emissions supply chain themselves. One inquiry Juárez said the business encounters frequently is whether they have a key performance indication to determine the climate influence of steel production within their very own procedures.

" It's not just about creating, it's also about generating in a lasting way.".

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