National Action Plans: the time for PV in Europe is now!

The Directive which is in the process of being transposed in Each Member States (MSs) by next year is pushing them to adopt ambitious national targets. Little time is left for MSs to determine how they will reach their national target: they have until December this year to send their forecast document to the European Commission (EC) which will provide an indication on which renewable resources they will promote and whether they will produce them locally or plan to import part of them.

Not only will MSs have to say which technology they will promote but also how they will reach these objectives. The EC has defined a detailed template which each country has to fill-in, stating the support scheme they will use, the administrative procedures, training and certification programmes for installers to be in place, etc.. The time is also short as these action plans have to be sent to the EC by June 2010.

So it is either time now or never to act in each Member State that has potential. Several initiatives are underway at EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association). We regularly gather existing national associations to propose tools and common recommendations to have ambitious targets proposed in each country and good recommendations for national action plans. Some countries have an official consultation process foreseen, others do not. We believe that actors at national level need to come in an organised and coherent way to show one single strong voice. EPIA is active in several European projects (REPAP 2020, PV Legal, Qualicert) which will contribute to provide support to national associations. The recently launched PV Observatory will ensure transparency on the policy frameworks in place and promote best practices throughout Europe.

We strongly encourage all PV companies, to actively participate in this process in order to set up long term and sustainable markets throughout Europe. Exclusion of PV from the national action plans may mean reconsideration of the political support schemes in place. It is time now, or never.

PV technology is tapping on the virtually unlimited resources from the sun and PV can provide energy at any scale, from the kilowatt to megawatt.

Photovoltaics furthermore have an excellent environmental footprint with an energy payback time in the range of 1 to 2 years (already 7 months for some Thin Film technologies) and a productive life expectation in excess of 25 years. PV therefore constitutes a key technology for combating climate change, with the potential to save billions of tons of CO2 – provided the appropriate policy support is in place.

Whatever the outcome in Copenhagen, we are at a crossroads in relation to our energy future, the design of which will be fundamental to the future of the PV energy industry. Policy makers have the choice between the path of sustainability, energy security, clean air and water, which would strengthen our economies and reduce our dangerous dependence on imported fuels, or they can continue our disastrous business as usual.

The future of our planet depends on making the right choice, and the PV industry stands ready to play its part in a sustainable energy future.