EU’s first Net-Zero academy to train 100,000 photovoltaic (PV) workers

The Commission has launched the European Solar Academy, the first in a series of EU academies to be created under the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) to provide the necessary skills along supply chains. value of net-zero technologies. The role of NZIA academies is to develop learning content and programs alongside industry, to ensure there are sufficient skills and workforce in the value chain.

It is estimated that in the solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing sector alone, some 66,000 skilled workers will be needed by 2030 for the EU to meet its ambitious renewable energy targets while ensuring industrial competitiveness. The Solar Academy aims to train 100,000 workers in the solar PV value chain over the next three years to address the current jobs and skills gap in the sector.
The Commission supports the launch of the European Solar Academy with €9 million from the Single Market Programme. The project will be implemented by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) through its Knowledge and Innovation Community, EIT Innoenergy.

This Academy is the latest Commission initiative supporting the EU’s efforts to achieve its ambitious goals under the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU Plan, while ensuring the industry is resilient and competitive on the global stage.

Under the revised Renewable Energy Directive, the EU has a target of 43.5% of its renewable energy share by 2030, with aspirations to reach 45%. As part of the REPowerEU plan, in May 2022 the Commission adopted an EU solar energy strategy that aims to reach more than 320 GW of solar PV capacity by 2025 and almost 600 GW by 2030.

To boost the manufacturing of net-zero technologies in Europe in support of the clean energy transition, the EU has introduced the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA). The aim is to create better conditions for establishing net-zero emissions projects in Europe and attracting investments, with the aim of bringing the Union’s overall strategic manufacturing capacity for net-zero technologies closer to or reaching at least 40% of the EU’s needs. Union deployment by 2030. In addition to other measures to ensure rapid permitting procedures and support innovation, the Law provides for the creation of Net-Zero Academies, each of which will focus on a specific technology, to ensure that net-zero sectors are supported by a skilled workforce.

The academies will draw on the analysis and experience of the Large Scale Skills Partnership for terrestrial renewable energy, which also includes the solar sector. The partnership aims to support the exchange of best practices and data on skills gaps and needs in this sector, ensure that people entering the renewable energy workforce are equipped with the right skills, provide guidance to public authorities , promote innovation in the sector and make it more attractive for workers. This partnership is part of the EU Skills Pact, which is a flagship action of the EU Skills Agenda. Through the Pact, 3.5 million people have received training in 2022 and 2023.

Following the successful model of the European Battery Academy, launched in 2022 for the battery value chain, the Solar Academy will design learning content, together with the industry and relevant parties of the solar PV value chain. The Solar Academy will also develop learning credentials, which will certify the skills that people have acquired on their training courses, also boosting workforce mobility across the Single Market. The deployment of the programs is carried out through local partners. They can be vocational and educational training (VET) providers, companies, universities or other education and training providers with whom the Academy signs a contract to deliver its programs.