If the European solar industry is to re-establish manufacturing at scale, what technologies, support measures, and strategies could potentially deliver success?
Our panel, comprising Alex Barrows, director of research at Exawatt, Laura Sartore CEO of Ecoprogetti, Edurne Zoco executive director of clean energy at IHS Markit, and Vartan Oskanian advisor to the CEO of Recom, discussed these key issues.
Alex Barrows said that there is currently around 10 GW of PV module manufacturing capacity located in Europe, if you include Turkey, although some of it is underutilized.
He added that Europe is good at focusing on the two ends of supply chain, for example, Wacker Chemie and polysilicon production, and module manufacturers of which there are a number of small companies operating in Europe. What is missing is the middle of the supply chain, i.e. the manufacture of wafers and cells, of which there is just 1-2 GW of capacity.
Edurne Zoco said that there a a few different factors which have helped the current EU-based module manufacturers to be successful, including the presence of local content or carbon footprint requirements for solar projects. The double digit growth of the installation market is also helping boost the landscape, as is module technology differentiation.
Laura Sartore, meanwhile, believes that European manufacturers’ level of customized automation and automation that is integrated with logistics, have helped establish their businesses.
Flexibility also plays a key role, she said, with successful manufacturers managing to adjust their production lines to specific kind of modules for specific markets , e.g. rooftops in Italy, Hungary, or Germany.
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