EU Solar Energy Strategy

In “A European Green Deal”

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The Solar Energy Strategy is part of the EU’s RepowerEU plan to phase out Russian fossil fuels and accelerate the green transition in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the European Commission, solar energy has a potential to become part of the mainstream energy system by providing power and heat to households and industry. The strategy puts forward a target of over 320 GW of newly installed solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025, and almost 600 GW by 2030. These frontloaded additional capacities are expected to displace the consumption of 9 BCM of natural gas annually by 2027.

The EU Solar Energy Strategy includes the following initiatives:

  • European Solar Rooftops Initiative
  • EU large-scale skills partnership for renewable energy
  • EU Solar PV Industry Alliance
  • Commission’s permitting package (legislative proposal, recommendation and guidance).

These initiatives will introduce a legally binding EU solar rooftop obligation to ensure accelerated installation of solar panels on buildings, help create a skilled workforce necessary to produce, install and maintain solar panels, and support the EU industry in expanding the domestic production of photovoltaic panels. The installation of rooftop solar energy will be compulsory for all new public and commercial buildings with useful floor area larger than 250 m2 by 2026, all existing public and commercial buildings with useful floor area larger than 250 m2 by 2027, and all new residential buildings by 2029. Moreover, the Commission aims to make permitting procedures shorter and simpler through a legislative proposal (see file on REPowerEU EU plan legislative proposal), recommendation and guidance.

Some additional measures under the EU Solar Energy Strategy include providing guidance for Member States to promote innovative forms of solar energy deployment, the creation of a community of practice dedicated to the procurement of solar energy in the framework of the Big Public Buyers initiative, promoting the uptake of Direct Current (DC) technologies and engaging with European and international standardisation organisations on the areas of DC application, proposing the application of the Ecodesign Directive and Energy Labelling Regulation to PV systems, proposing a legislative initiative banning products made by forced labour from the Single Market, setting up an Energy Communities Facility to provide cascade funding to energy community projects in the EU under the LIFE programme, developing a joint strategic research and innovation solar energy agenda with Member States, and launching a research and innovation flagship initiative on solar energy under Horizon Europe.

The Member States will also be encouraged to incentivise the installation of solar energy storage devices, support energy communities and evaluate electricity tariffs, for instance in light of benefits from a time-differentiated distribution network tariffs to manage peak loads and grid congestion. The Commission also plans to collaborate with the Member States on facilitating electric vehicle charging and developing a network code on demand side flexibility.

The estimated investment needed for solar photovoltaics (PV) under RepowerEU amounts to €26 billion between now and 2027, on top of the investments under Fit for 55. Most financing is expected to be private, but also partially triggered by public funding. According to the European Commission, the EU instruments that can support the roll-out of solar energy are: the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the cohesion policy funds, InvestEU, the Innovation Fund, the Modernisation Fund, Horizon Europe, the LIFE programme, Connecting Europe Facility and the EU renewable energy financing mechanism.

References:

Author: Agnieszka Widuto, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/11/2022.