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EU 2019-2024 Legislative Policy Cycle

The solar industry promotes Industry 4.S – with “s” for sustainability!

European solar manufacturers, equipment producers and R&D institutes claim for uniting climate protection and industrial politics in the EU. “Voters in Europe are clearly concerned about the issue of climate change, but found the topic insufficiently addressed by most of the established parties. At the same time, people fear losing more and more parts of the EU industry and related jobs. What we need is Industry 4.S, smart and digitalized manufacturing in a sustainable and competitive manner” says Prof. Dr. Eicke Weber, provisional chairman of the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), the new organization representing the interests of the European Solar PV manufacturing industry. ESMC has over 30 members on board with key industrial companies based in Europe and established organizations active in the PV sector.

The solar manufacturers see a deficit in political discussion, defining climate protection as an economic burden. “The opposite is the case”, says Weber. “Executing ambitious climate protection policies create an economic advantage for the EU manufacturing industry in comparison with other countries. The necessary precondition is that these standards are also applied for goods imported from other countries, such as Asian countries.”

ESMC lists several tools to award sustainable manufacturing in Europe:

  1. A border-adjusted and revenue-neutral carbon pricing.
  2. Broader application of the EU Sustainable Procurement framework.
  3. Carbon footprint consideration in political support schemes and state aids.
  4. Broader application of Ecolabel and Ecodesign.
  5. Improved access from industry to financing and R&D support

“The tools identified by ESMC are urgently needed to attract investments to sustainable manufacturing in the EU solar industry. But the same is true for every other key technology such as E-mobility and batteries”, says Giulia Serra, executive secretary of ESMC. “A joint climate protection and industrial policy can prevent companies from moving jobs away from Europe and losing one after another industry to Asia. The implementation, for example, of carbon footprint benchmarks would compensate for cost disadvantages towards imports from highly emitting countries and support further investments in Europe. All of this is precisely meeting the requirements of the new EU initiative for an Industrial Policy Strategy, decided on by the European Council last week to ensure Europe will have a key role in the expected massive development of solar PV as a key global energy source, smart dedicated policies are needed to repower the industry development.

The provisional council of ESMC elected on 27 May 2019 Prof. Weber as chairperson, to be confirmed by the first General Assembly of ESMC, planned for September.