Record-low prices of solar imports risk damaging the EU’s open strategic autonomy goals, Brussels-based association SolarPower Europe warned in a letter to the European Commission.
“While price drops are typically welcome news, if unchecked they have serious repercussions for our open strategic autonomy,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe. “In the short term, this is already posing real challenges to domestic competitiveness and the rebirth of EU solar manufacturing. We’re urgently calling on EU leaders to save Europe’s strategic tech supply lines.”
According to the association a perfect storm of market forces, not unusual in commodities, has driven prices down by more than 25 per cent. Module prices have hit a record low of less than 0.15 euro/watt for low-cost products, now even submerging pre-COVID levels, making it extremely difficult for European manufacturing companies to sell their products. The news comes soon after Norwegian Crystals, one of the continent’s enduring ingot manufacturers, filed for bankruptcy.
The current situation is exacerbated by a slight, temporary, slowing down of the European solar market in the third quarter, linked to inflation and tightening bottlenecks around grid connections and project permitting.
Thus, SolarPower Europe is urgently calling on the European Commission to take decisive action, such as:
- swift emergency acquisition of European PV manufacturer’s module inventories;
- establishing a Solar Manufacturing Bank at the EU level;
- address the inadequacies of the Temporary Transition and Crisis Framework (TCTF) for State Aid;
- accelerate the adoption of the Net Zero Industry Act;
- advance the intended impact of the EU Forced Labour Regulation by backing the Solar Stewardship Initiative (SSI);
- enable collaboration between Member States’ support programmes;
- balance oversupply with a further boost in demand for solar PV in Europe, for example, through the European Performance of Building Directive.
“This is a rare second chance,” continued Ms Hemetsberger. “Europe’s original solar manufacturing base was lost a decade ago. If we don’t respond rapidly and appropriately to this price crisis, we’re looking at another wave of bankruptcies and a false start for EU’s open strategic autonomy agenda.”