Europe: Accelerating the path towards ‘solar energy 3.0’

Europe is currently in the first stage of photovoltaic solar development. Moving to the next phases, 2.0 and 3.0, will require a smart new Green Deal that avoids the “boom-and-bust” developments of the past and leverages private investment to achieve high renewable energy goals, writes Stefan Degener.

Stefan Degener is First Solar’s Head of Business Development for Europe and Africa and a member of the Board of Directors of Solar Power Europe.

As the chorus in favor of raising Europe’s renewable energy targets grew throughout 2017, it remains to be seen if 2018 will be the year in which the European Union takes a step towards embracing the recommended goal of having 35% of its electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

By most accounts, upsizing the current commitment of 27% is the only feasible path to realising the region’s carbon-reduction obligations by 2030, and, for all practical purposes, an upward revision of eight percent is not unachievable.

However, concerns remain about the so-called ‘ambition gap’ – a reference to those member states whose national renewable energy programs simply do not sufficiently contribute to the EU 2030 target – and the ‘delivery gap’ which refers to shortfalls in national contributions.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Europe requires a smart new Green Deal; one that avoids the mistakes of wrong allocation and “boom-and-bust” developments of the past and leverages the potential of private investment to achieve stretch renewable energy goals, while also pushing for the evolution of power generation systems and the reliable design of markets and regulations in which they operate.

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