Solar power photovoltaics (PV) is on the road to becoming a mainstream energy technology

Solar energyphotovoltaics (PV) is on the road to becoming a mainstream energy technology and is currently the fastest growing renewable energy source in Europe, with a rise in installed capacity of almost 13,000 MW over the past year. By the end of 2010 more than 28,000 MW of electricity were being produced from this solar energy technology. This is equivalent to the production of 2 coal-fired power plants and to the electricity consumption of 10 million households in Europe or half of the electricity demand in Greece.

While these numbers are encouraging, solar photovoltaics has the potential to do more. In fact, solar energy photovoltaic (PV) has a critical contribution to the three pillars of the EU’s energy policy: competitiveness, energy security of supply and sustainability.

Ultimately, boosting the share of photovoltaics in the electricity market will yield huge environmental, social and economic benefits for Europe. However, to achieve this we need a real paradigm shift. Policy-makers, regulators and industry need to work together to drive PV mass penetration, fostering technological progress and cost reductions as well as creating a predictable regulatory environment that attracts investments in the EU.

Building on the very successful launch of the Solar Generation VI report in February 2011, EPIA is introducing a series of Solar Briefings to tackle all of these issues. The series of Solar Briefings will provide a platform for discussion on competitiveness, energy infrastructures, energy independence & security of supply and on sustainability issues from the economic, environmental and social perspectives.

The Solar Briefing to be held on 19 April 2011, in Brussels will be organised in partnership with the renowned Brussels think tank Friends of Europe. A new study “PV competing in the energy sector” conducted by EPIA, together with the leading strategy consulting group AT Kearney, will be presented on this occasion, showcasing the road towards competitiveness according to costs and electricity prices in the five main EU markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).

As solar electricity can be virtually produced anywhere on a large or small scale, PV supports energy security of supply and independence at national, regional and individual levels – allowing for local communities and households to become energy self-sufficient. Indeed, this will be the core theme of this year’s European Solar Days campaign (1-15 May 2011, 18 participating European countries). The campaign’s Advocacy event, titled “Europe’s energy independence starts with solar”, will be hosted together with the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) and will close the European Solar Days 2011 on 26 May, in Brussels.

Another Solar Briefing event will be held on 21 June 2011, in the European Parliament (EP), Brussels, under the patronage of Anni Podimata, Member of the European Parliament. The focus of the event will be on energy infrastructure and named “Get a grip on the grid: PV integration into the grid”. On this Midsummer night dinner debate, the discussion will be on how PV integration into the grid can be supported by important energy infrastructure roll-out like smart grids and smart metering. The debate will be preceded by the vernissage of the “Your Sun Your Energy” photo exhibition (running from 20-24 June 2011 in the EP, Brussels).