Solar power use to increase in 2023

Solar panels, Greece. Copyright: Ben Schonewille / Shutterstock

Solar Power Europe's aim to achieve a new record in the installation of photovoltaic electricity production units in 2023, after 2022 record, Aristotelis Hantavas, the president of the organisation said in a message for the new year.

Hantavas' message follows:

"2022 was a year that redefined the energy landscape in our continent. We were all aware since the past decade, that the solution for low-cost, environmentally friendly and geopolitically secure energy supply was the acceleration of deployment of new renewable energy projects.

"But in 2022 this became visible to all the stakeholders, as the year started with a war, which unfortunately returned to Europe. On February 24th, Russia launched an invasion into Ukraine.

"Although the Ukrainian resistance is holding strong, reports of casualties and brutal attacks continue. Our most heartfelt sympathies are with the victims and their communities.

"It has never been clearer that the energy policy is a security policy. The European Union has committed to support Ukraine by ending Russian fossil-fuels imports to the EU.

"Solar has stepped up to support the continent’s efforts to get off Russian gas. Around 41.4 GW of solar was installed in the EU in 2022, enough to power more than 12 million more homes with solar energy - and reduce gas demand by more than 100 LNG tankers.

"This is even higher than our most ambitious forecasts in 2021. A fact that clearly constitutes a testimony to the true potential of solar, and the incredible work of the sector in the last year.

"Now, more than ever, the European policymakers are aware of the leading role of solar in climate and energy security efforts. Just before the new year, we sat down to talk with Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson about the historic solar figures of 2022.

"These numbers follow a pivotal legislative moment for solar. In May 2022, the European Commission proposed the EU Solar Strategy, following SolarPower Europe's strong advocacy for a comprehensive strategy for the sector.

"This is a first of its kind strategy to boost solar deployment in the EU, and it sets a target of 750 GWdc EU solar capacity by 2030. The direction of the journey has been set.

"In 2023 we expect around 54 GW of new solar. In a high-ambition scenario, we forecast up to 68 GW. This trajectory will be crucial. IEA tell us that the EU needs 60 GW of new solar in 2023 already, to make up for the shortfall in Russian gas.

"Therefore, in 2023 we will be working with industry, policymakers, and citizens, in the race to get ready for solar.

"The path isn’t obviously without hurdles. Our key priorities for 2023 include:

"1. Dramatically expanding the pool of solar installers. Many more Europeans could have already become independent from gas imports if there had been more qualified technicians to install and grid-connect their solar systems. Fixing the installation bottleneck is the top priority.

"2. Maintaining regulatory stability. While Europeans want solar and investors are ready, the wrong signals from state market interventions can significantly slow down today’s gigantic solar momentum.

"3. Ensuring grid stability. Solar stakeholders are increasingly reporting grid connection issues, both on the transmission and distribution levels. We need to take this challenge more seriously, and also enable flexibility through setting indicative 2030 targets for energy storage.

"4. Streamlining administrative procedures. Solar faces significant permitting barriers and administrative challenges. To absorb the necessary solar power plants to come we need improved spatial planning and permitting procedures, which have to be designed in harmony with the people and nature.

"5. Reinforcing access to green and reliable manufacturing. Europe needs to be able to source solar products sustainably and from reliable supply chains. The EU cannot exchange one dependency for another. A powerful domestic solar industry, at the center of a diversified, global solar supply chain, is critical.

"Our advocacy and achievements are a result of the strong support and empowerment we receive from our members. I want to express my sincere gratitude to all of you for your continued support, as we strive to make solar become the core of the European energy system."

He closed out his message with a reminder that the Organization’s members will meet in person at the SolarPower Summit 2023, taking place 8-9 March in Brussels.

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