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European solar PV industry ready to co-finance €1235m of R&D

The European solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is launching the Solar Industry Initiative (SEII) this week at the European SET Plan Conference in Madrid, Spain.

The SEII, set up by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and the European Photovoltaic Technology Platform, aims to contribute to achieving 12% solar PV supply of EU electricity demand by 2020.

In the coming three years, €1.2 billion needs to be invested in research and development (R&D) to optimise production aiming at cost reduction as well as improving the interface between the electricity grid and solar PV systems.

Of the €1235 million, almost 60% will be provided by the private sector whereas the remaining amount needs to be balanced out by the European Commission and EU Member States.

Sixteen Member States have already expressed their commitment to support the solar PV part of the SEII and have identified three common areas of high priority in the short term:

  • Advance manufacturing processes for all solar 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 solar PV (CPV) technology in the field.

In the longer term, topics as such as materials (including organic solar cells) and smart module development for easier network integration will be areas of focus.

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, EPIA and the Technology Platform urge.

Increasing production capacity

Increasing production capacity is as important as R&D for achieving economies of scale, and therefore public support (in the form of feed-in-tariffs) is still necessary for assuring a stable solar PV 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,” says Virgilio Navarro, Vice President of EPIA and CEO of ATERSA.

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