top of page
  • Writer's pictureVOB

EU support for solar energy

Solar power is a cheap, clean, modular and flexible energy source. It is currently one of the cheapest renewable energies on the market and the most accessible one for European households. In 2020, 5.2% of the EU’s total electricity production came from solar energy. Based on current market trends, it has the potential to meet up to 20% of the EU’s electricity demand by 2040.

As stated in the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU plan, a further deployment of solar energy installations is an essential step in the EU’s transition towards clean energy and climate neutrality. Moreover, increasing its uptake reduces our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

solar panels
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Solar Energy

The greatest source of renewable energy is the sun. Sun is a source of energy that should be used more effectively. The solar water heater is a first solution. It provides domestic hot water and even supports your heating installation. You can save up to 55% on your energy bill for domestic hot water. With 5 solar panels, you can save up to 30% on your heating bill. Even in Belgium, the sun provides enough energy to produce half of our hot water. It also allows the production of free electricity. The only thing to do is to install photovoltaic panels. It also reduces CO2 emissions.

Sun is also a source of electricity. Photovoltaics (PV) convert sunlight directly into electricity by creating voltage or electrical current. EU renewable energy policies have helped bring solar photovoltaics costs down by 82% over the last decade thanks mostly to subsidies.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) covers all technologies that aim to transform solar radiation energy into very high temperature heat for onward conversion into electricity. CSP has the potential to become a key technology for renewable electricity production in all net zero emissions scenarios. A considerable advantage of CSP is its ability to store thermal energy and delay electricity production.

Growing Solar Energy

The accelerated deployment of solar technologies is at the core of the EU Solar Energy Strategy, published in May 2022 as part of the REPowerEU plan. It outlines several initiatives to unlock the solar generation potential of rooftops (European Solar Rooftop Initiative), address the skills gap in the solar energy sector (EU large-scale skills partnership) and scale up PV manufacturing in the EU (EU Solar PV Industry Alliance). Through these initiatives, the strategy aims to bring online over 320 GW of solar photovoltaic by 2025 and almost 600 GW by 2030. These frontloaded additional capacities can displace the consumption of 9 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually by 2027.

Research & Innovation Efforts at the EU Level

The EU supports research and innovation projects that contribute to reducing the cost of solar energy technologies and increasing their energy efficiency and sustainability. Many of these projects are looking into integrating solar PV in agriculture, transport and industry. Already under Horizon 2020 (the predecessor of Horizon Europe), a total financial contribution of around €259.5 million was invested on activities related to photovoltaics between 2014 and 2020.

The Horizon 2020 SolAqua project explores the use of solar irrigation, where solar energy powers the pump which supplies water, as a zero-emission energy for crop irrigation. Innovative technologies, such as floating PV, are also key to increase capacity for solar power beyond classical rooftop and ground-mounted PV installations. The FreShER project, which kicked off in 2019, aims to showcase innovative technology for floating solar power plants that results in improved cost-efficiency.

Solar energy requires technological, digital and operational advancements to be seamlessly integrated into the EU’s energy system. Integrating decentralised solar installations will require adaptations in distribution networks and digitalisation investments, such as smart grids, to enable higher system performance and a more efficient transmission. Energy storage through batteries and heat pumps can also contribute to the integration of solar electricity into the energy system if these effectively communicate with each other.

International Cooperation

The EU works with strategic partners to expand solar energy and other renewable energies globally and to remove trade and investment barriers to their deployment.

In cooperation with the International Renewable Energy Agency, the EU is preparing Regional Energy Transition Outlooks for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe, providing a thorough analysis of the regions' potential and options in terms of renewable energy, energy efficiency, infrastructure, energy access and cross-border cooperation. The EU also cooperates with the International Solar Alliance to disseminate its experience in solar energy technologies, policies and practices.

Source: This post is based on the news published by the Press Corner of the EU Commission

Recent News

bottom of page