The two PV companies have demonstrated how competitive value creation can be successful in Germany and Europe. This would also be important to keep technologies and innovations in this country. Meyer Burger and SMA make four specific proposals in which they keep an eye on both the generation of solar energy and the manufacture of the photovoltaic products required for it.
4th December 2020
A lot has changed in terms of photovoltaic production in Germany and Europe in recent months. A number of manufacturers want to set up gigawatt factories.
The best-known examples are undoubtedly Meyer Burger, who is currently building large production facilities for heterojunction cells and modules in Germany, and REC, which wants to manufacture highly efficient solar modules on a gigawatt scale in France. In contrast to China, however, these ventures in Europe are quite a difficult task, especially when it comes to raising the financial resources. One reason for this is that there is no clear industrial policy strategy.
Against this background, Meyer Burger and the inverter manufacturer SMA have jointly drawn up recommendations for government policy aimed at developing a national and European industrial strategy. In their published whitepaper “Solar production in Germany: Strategic innovation leadership as a cornerstone of European energy sovereignty” they outline approaches for expanding competitive value creation in Germany and Europe on the basis of local technologies and innovations.
Companies from Germany and Europe are still global leaders in research and technology development. A forward-looking industrial policy could strengthen Europe as a manufacturing base and convert technologies into successful exports, creating more than 100,000 jobs in the process. To this end, SMA and Meyer Burger propose four measures.
Point one on the list is creating a fair market for sustainable electricity generation. “The financing instruments of the national and European project and development banks should include the production of technology in addition to solar energy generation,” says the White Paper. “National and European economic stimulus programs to cope with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to transition to climate neutrality should support the regional production of solar technology.”
Second, the reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) should be used as a “building block for energy sovereignty”. The annual expansion corridor for photovoltaics in Germany must be increased to 10 gigawatts and solar self-consumption must be promoted more strongly. In concrete terms, Meyer Burger and SMA undertake to significantly increase the de minimis limit for exemption from personal consumption and to facilitate installations in the commercial and industrial sectors. This is a first step towards becoming a prosumer society.
Thirdly, companies are demanding the introduction of new concepts and efficient technologies for the space-saving expansion of photovoltaics. Long-term land use concepts are required. In addition, new approaches such as agro-photovoltaics and floating systems should be promoted. “The use of the most efficient technology is essential in order to generate as much energy as possible in the smallest of spaces, both for roof systems and for open space systems,” said the company. “In order not to get into similar conflicts as with wind energy on land, heads of government should already intervene to control land use.”
Finally, the companies also advocate a national 10 million and a European 100 million umbrella program. In combination with smart home storage systems, a simplification of the tenant models and separate tenders for large PV systems in urban areas, there should be solar demand for new buildings. This would stimulate the solar demand for a “safe, inexpensive and climate-friendly energy supply”.
“Global commitments and initiatives for more climate protection, increasing the efficiency of cells, modules and inverters as well as solar radiation that is available practically everywhere will lead to solar energy becoming the most important energy source in the long term,” explained SMA CEO Jürgen Reinert. The German PV industry has made a significant contribution to this development in recent years, he added. “We now need fair and resilient framework conditions in order to continue writing this success story and to accelerate the global energy transition through our unique know-how.”
Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger, added that Germany and Europe would have the opportunity to “take advantage of the boom in solar energy and set the pace for this important technology for renewable energies”. However, this is only possible under certain conditions. “To do this, we need a holistic industrial strategy that takes electricity generation and the production of the necessary technologies into account side by side. We need short-term support measures that improve the framework. “
SMA and Meyer Burger emphasize the importance of both power generation and the production of the required technologies and state that in a constantly growing solar market it is important not to be dependent on exports. “Without a strategic industrial policy approach for European solar production, we will be completely dependent on foreign suppliers in the future. We are giving away the opportunity for broad European added value, ”said Erfurt.
Reinert sees the current EEG reform as an opportunity to drive expansion and, with regard to the climate targets, states that the legislative changes “must not be the end point here. The debate must go on. “
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