The European Solar Photovoltaic Industry is ready to co-finance 1,235 million euro in R&D in order to achieve competitiveness in all its market segments
The Solar Europe Industry Initiative (SEII) that will be launched on Thursday in Madrid during the European SET Plan Conference will contribute to achieving 12% Solar Photovoltaic (PV) supply of the EU electricity demand by 2020
Since last year, EPIA and the Photovoltaic Technology Platform have worked jointly with the European Commission and Member States representatives on the initiative. As a result of this intense work, sixteen Member States have expressed their commitment to support the PV part of the SEII and have identified three common areas of high priority in the short term: advance manufacturing processes for all PV technologies, aiming at reducing costs and improving output; develop Building Integrated PV (BIPV) products and applications for the easier and lower cost building integration; and the demonstration of concentrator PV technology in the field. Additionally, it was agreed that in the longer term, topics as materials (including organic solar cells) and smart module development for easier network integration will be the focus area.
If the EU wants to maintain the European technology leadership on Photovoltaics, EPIA encourages the European Commission and Member States to urgently execute the SEII Implementation plan by putting in place effective financial mechanisms as well as increasing significantly public budgets for R&D. While the SET Plan is being discussed for more than 3 years now, other governments in Asia and USA are continuing their public R&D support to their industries, which is directly translated into lower manufacturing costs.
However, R&D is not the only ingredient; increasing production capacity is as important as R&D for achieving economies of scale and therefore public support (in the form of feedintariffs) is still necessary for assuring a stable market growth.
"R&D is not sufficient alone and has no impact on competitiveness if it is not accompanied by an increase in volumes and market development. The 40% price decrease in 2009 and 50% in the last two years confirm that political support is still needed to reach economies of scale by increasing production" mentioned Virgilio Navarro, Vice President of EPIA and CEO of ATERSA.
The abovementioned measures need to be accompanied by an improvement of the market access regulation, a reinforcement of the distribution networks and an increase of the transmission capacity.
EPIA and the EU PV Technology Platform therefore welcome the efforts of the European Commission and Member States to intensify and coordinate at EU level all efforts on R&D activities and encourage maintaining all the existing supports for market growth in order to permit Photovoltaics to become competitive in the short term.