The European Commission has released the long-awaited revised Industrial Strategy to make Europe a world leader in clean energy technologies and to support the decarbonisation of critical EU industries such as cement, steel and chemicals.
The updated Strategy reaffirms the priorities set out in March 2020, while responding to the lessons learned from the pandemic crisis to boost the recovery and enhance the EU’s open strategic autonomy. It proposes new measures to strengthen the resilience of the Single Market; it addresses the need to better understand our dependencies in key strategic areas; it offers new measures to accelerate the green and digital transitions.
The 2020 Industrial Strategy had already announced actions to support the green and digital transitions of the EU industry, but the pandemic drastically affected the speed and scale of the transformation. Therefore, the Commission has outlined new measures to support the business case for the green and digital transitions. First, by co-creating transition pathways in partnership with industry, public authorities, social partners and other stakeholders, where needed, starting with tourism and energy-intensive industries. Such pathways could offer a better bottom-up understanding of the scale, cost and conditions of the required action to accompany the twin transitions for the most relevant ecosystems leading to an actionable plan in favour of sustainable competitiveness.
Secondly, by providing a coherent regulatory framework to achieve the objectives of Europe’s Digital Decade and the Fit for 55 ambitions, including by accelerating the rollout of renewable energy sources and by ensuring access to abundant, affordable and decarbonised electricity. The Commission will also provide Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with Sustainability Advisors and supporting data-driven business models to make the most out of the green and digital transitions. Finally, it will invest to upskill and reskill to support the twin transitions.
“Today’s updated Industrial Strategy is about making sure our industries are equipped to drive the digital and green transformations of our economy while ensuring the competitiveness of our industries, also in the context of the recovery from the coronavirus crisis,” said Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, responsible for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age. “This requires new investments now – in people, in technologies and in the right regulatory framework that guarantees fairness and efficiency. By supporting and extending the scope of key tools already at our disposal, we are today presenting our lessons learnt and reaffirming our commitment to work together with all economic actors from across Europe.”
Brussels-based association SolarPower Europe noted the important role that the solar industry will play in delivering this vision, providing an unprecedentedly affordable and sustainable energy supply to EU businesses to power the bulk of Europe’s climate-neutral ambitions.
Indeed, solar PV, together with other renewable energy technologies, is identified as one of the 14 key industrial ecosystems for the EU. The Strategy stresses the need to scale up investments in new projects and the importance of regaining and strengthening the EU’s competitive edge in the solar photovoltaic industry. The Commission also officially endorsed the European Solar Initiative (ESI), launched by SolarPower Europe and EIT InnoEnergy in February 2021. This initiative, inspired by the industrial alliances’ concept, aims to redevelop a 20-gigawatts (GW) manufacturing capacity of solar PV technologies in Europe by 2025.
“By 2050, solar energy could power more than 60 per cent of Europe’s electricity generation, which makes it a strategic asset for Europe’s decarbonisation and the success of the European Green Deal,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe. “This has built momentum to reinvest in solar manufacturing capacities based on European leadership in future solar technologies. In light of this, we are absolutely delighted that the revised Strategy acknowledges the importance of strengthening and regaining the EU’s competitive edge in the solar photovoltaic industry. It was a much-awaited signal to re-ignite solar manufacturing in Europe and enable the EU to take the lead in the next generation of cutting-edge solar technologies.”
The Industrial Strategy also recognises that modernising and decarbonising energy-intensive industries must be a top priority, through corporate renewable sourcing and renewable hydrogen. SolarPower Europe will pursue these endeavours through its involvement in the RE-Source Platform and renewable Hydrogen Coalition.