- ETIP PV’s recently concluded conference released a whitepaper that details challenges to having a successful solar PV manufacturing within EU
- Overall costs of a solar panel produced in the bloc go up significantly with high cost of energy
- EU needs to raise its investments in research and innovation to ensure successful and sustainable growth of the industry
The European Union’s (EU) ambition to have a fully sustainable and local solar PV supply also needs to be cost competitive but the cost of energy remains a chief threat for a successful growth of the sector, according to the European Technology and Innovation Platform for Photovoltaics (ETIP PV). Another challenge is the fact that the bloc needs to raise research and innovation (R&I) investments.
In a whitepaper published by ETIP, a European Commission funded industry platform, during its annual conference 2023 in early May in Brussels, analysts believe energy and water costs by themselves account for nearly 69% of the cost disparities between qmodules manufactured in China and in Europe.
These 2 factors, along with others, make the cost of producing a solar panel in Europe 15% to 33% more expensive than in China. They count the spread falling to 16% in the high European production costs scenario when accounting the cost of transporting manufactured panels to Europe.
While Europe’s high level of decarbonized electricity system compared to several other global markets works in its favor with products having lower carbon footprint, it remains expensive too which makes production of energy-guzzling materials as polysilicon, wafers and solar glass pricier.
They offer an estimate: For a typical 500W panel, European PV is €1.0 to €17.5 more expensive than a Chinese one. For a 10kW domestic installation, this is a €20.0 to €350.0 spread. For a utility-scale 300 MW project, developers might need to invest up to €10.5 million more to source panels from the EU.
“A successful European PV industrial policy would therefore need to bring European PV panel manufacturing costs in a range comparable to that of its global competitors. Such a policy would therefore also consider the different factors that contribute to the competitiveness of a PV industry, from the cost of inputs such as energy and raw materials to the establishment of a reliable value chain and reaping economies of scale,” reads the whitepaper.
Beyond cost of energy, the other pet peeves of the industry remain lack of sufficient industrial capacity and investments to meet the ambitions of a domestic integrated value chain, along with permitting barriers to rapidly expand PV capacity and lack of skilled labor.
“The European manufacturing and equipment industry has always been built on a very strong R&I infrastructure. Now more than ever, Europe will need to invest heavily to mark its position in this very fast-moving and highly competitive technology,” said Head of the Solar Energy division at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin and ETIP PV Chairman, Rutger Schlatmann at the conference.
The whitepaper titled PV Manufacturing in Europe: understanding the value chain for a successful industrial policy can be downloaded for free from ETIP PV’s website.
ETIP PV was relaunched in September 2022 by the ETIP to provide advice to European policymakers and promote solar PV technology in the bloc. It is mandated to run from 2022 to 2025 (see ETIP Relaunches ETIP PV Project To Support Industry).