EU Member States Sign Solar Charter to Boost Domestic Manufacturing

The Charter advocates the use of non-price criteria in renewable energy auctions and public procurement


The European Commission and member states have signed the European Solar Charter, outlining a coordinated set of actions to support the continent’s struggling solar photovoltaic (PV) industry and tackle unfair competitive practices.

The EU has targeted at least 42.5% renewable energy by 2030.

A heavy reliance on imported solar modules, primarily from China, has threatened the viability of existing European solar manufacturers. The plummeting prices of imported panels have led some European companies to scale back operations or shift production to other markets, such as the U.S.

Europe’s solar industry, represented by SolarPower Europe, warned in September last year of bankruptcies over cheap Chinese imports. It had said that despite efforts by the European Commission and member states to support the resurgence of European solar manufacturing, Chinese manufacturers were intentionally undercutting prices, undermining these initiatives.

To address these issues, the Charter has committed to promoting a resilient supply of high-quality, sustainable solar products within Europe.

A core element of the Charter is using non-price criteria in renewable energy auctions and public procurement. This will include resilience, sustainability, responsible business conduct, and innovation considerations.

The Charter also calls for providing EU funding and state aid support to spur new investments in the solar supply chain, leveraging earlier programs.

The Innovation Fund, for instance, has allocated €400 million (~$425 million) to solar manufacturing projects and made €1.4 billion (~$1.5 billion) available for its 2023 clean tech manufacturing call.

Additionally, the Charter promotes innovative forms of solar energy deployment, such as agri-PV, floating solar, and building-integrated PV. It calls for removing regulatory barriers, adapting or creating public support schemes, and encouraging new business models, like turnkey projects for PV integration in buildings.

The European Commission has also called for facilitating access to EU funding for solar manufacturing through mediums like the State Aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework (TCTF) and Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) to drive innovation in the solar value chain.

Earlier this month, the European Commission launched investigations into Chinese solar component manufacturers who may have benefited from state subsidies to win a bid to design, construct, and operate a 110 MW solar photovoltaic park in Romania.

In January this year, Meyer Burger Technology, a Europe-based solar cell and module manufacturer, announced that it has started the process of shutting down its manufacturing facility in Freiberg, Germany. The closure is a part of the company’s plan to cut its losses in Europe and move the manufacturing base to the U.S.