What’s next for European solar: opportunities and challenges

This past year we have seen a reinvigoration of Europe’s solar industry, with the rate of new installations exceeding everyone’s expectations and the levelised cost of electricity for solar becoming competitive with fossil fuels. This solar growth has not gone unnoticed by Europe, as policy makers are increasingly becoming more eager to catalyse the energy transition with a more ambitious Clean Energy Package. With recent votes in the European Parliament, a 35% renewables target is now on the table which demonstrates the EU’s commitment to becoming a global leader in renewable energy.

While this ambition is undoubtedly an important first step towards Europe’s energy transition, it is now crucial that Europe understands how to fully realise the great potential of solar to make the transition more efficient and cost-effective. During the 13th edition of the annual SolarPower Summit  on March 14-15 in Brussels, policy-makers, industry leaders, financial experts, associations and international organisations will meet to discuss the most important developments in solar today and how Europe can take advantage of these in order to solidify their top spot as the world’s leader in renewable energy.

This event will answer the burning question: what’s next for solar in Europe?

A market fit for solar

Current negotiations on market design as part of the Clean Energy Package will be a key element to either make or break the energy transition. In order for an efficient energy transition to take place, a new market design will need to better integrate solar into the grid through tapping into the potential of new actors such as aggregators, storage and demand response. The EU must look to create a market that encourages and enables more renewables instead of being an obstacle to their deployment. One opportunity to realise this is through supporting small-scale solar installations, which will be discussed in detail during the ‘Small is Beautiful’ EU Focus Breakout Sessions at the SolarPower Summit. This will encourage the proliferation of energy prosumers, which will help to realise the Energy Union’s objective of a consumer-driven energy transition. The right market design is the key towards an electricity system based on renewables – if the EU wants to be the global leader in renewables, their energy market must reflect this to be more flexible and supportive for the deployment of solar.

Innovation

 New technologies and business models are appearing every day which will make solar even cheaper and more efficient, so that it can take a bigger share in Europe’s energy system. Storage and digitalisation have been topics of much discussion recently and will play a major role in the solar industry in the coming years. The price of storage has fallen dramatically in the past years, and this coupled with more innovative storage technology, can ensure that solar is increasingly integrated into the grid and stable on the energy market. Storage’s potential is then taken to the next level with the digitalisation of the energy system, which will be discussed in depth with industry experts during the ‘Storage’ Breakout Session. Digitalisation of the energy system through smart meters, demand response, blockchain technology to facilitate P2P trading and digital system monitoring will be important factors in increasing the system integration of solar. Together, these trends can help bring solar power to even more people. Major utilities are now offering smart home solutions which integrate innovative storage and digitalisation systems to enable consumers to become energy prosumers. Other opportunities for digitalisation and solar will be discussed during the cutting-edge panel on ‘Digital Solar Services: Going Beyond Power’ at the SolarPower Summit.

The standardisation of O&M and Asset Management, which will be subject of another exciting Breakout Session, is also an important trend that is helping to reduce price and increase deployment of solar in Europe. As these elements of the solar value chain become more standardised, a positive signal is sent to investors which encourages the financing of more solar projects. This development, coupled with the decreasing price of solar technology, has led to the inauguration of Europe’s first subsidy free solar park – and this definitely won’t be the last! Industry leaders that were involved in this first subsidy-free solar park will join as for an exclusive panel on ‘What’s the Future of Subsidy-Free & Large-Scale Solar in Europe’.

 These are just a few topics that will be part of our flagship event SolarPower Summit, which will be an important opportunity to boost the European solar industry while extending into other emerging markets to establish Europe as a global leader in renewables. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of the future of solar on 14-15 March in Brussels and register now before seats fill up!

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