“We are about to lose the entire European photovoltaic (PV) industry,” says the secretary general of ESMC

A little bit more than a year after the launch of the European Solar PV Industry Alliance, which aimed to reach 30GW of domestic manufacturing capacity by 2025 across the entire value chain, the industry in Europe seems poised to be at a full halt and unable to attain that goal in less than two years.

These goals are “totally impossible” given the current circumstances of the market prices, says Johan Lindahl, secretary general at the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC). With prices hitting lows of RMB55/kg (US$7.65/kg) for mono-grade dense polysilicon as prices plummeted last year in a matter of months and have now stabilised at an even lower average price than what was seen between 2019 and 2020.

In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, industry group the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC) warned that without rapid help, the EU risked losing more than half of its operational solar photovoltaic module manufacturing capacity within weeks.

“Over the next 4–8 weeks, major EU PV module producers and their European suppliers are poised to shut down manufacturing lines unless substantial emergency measures are promptly implemented,” said the letter, dated Jan. 30.

ESMC asked the EU to launch emergency measures including a scheme to buy up excess inventories of EU solar modules to ease the oversupply, and change state aid rules to boost government support for local solar producers.

If those measures cannot be done rapidly, the EU should also consider “safeguard” measures that could include tariffs and quotas to counter a surge of imports, the letter said.

Europe is rapidly expanding solar energy, installing a record 56 GW of new capacity last year.

But while that fast growth is crucial to meet climate change targets, it is also heavily reliant on imported components from China – prompting some other industry groups to oppose tariffs that could disrupt supplies from China and potentially slow the roll-out of green energy.

Switzerland’s Meyer Burger (MBTN.S)

, opens new tab is among the European firms struggling, this month announcing plans to close its loss-making production plant in Germany unless the government delivered promised funding.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Jan Harvey