WindEurope and SolarPower Europe, the respective trade associations for the wind and solar power industries in Europe, on Thursday half-heartedly welcomed the European Commission’s newly-proposed regulations, noting that more needs to be done.
As previously reported, the EC presented its legislative proposals for scaling up the production of clean technologies in the EU – the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) – and ensuring the availability of critical raw materials to the bloc – the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA).
The two industry bodies responded to the announcements separately, pointing at what they believe are some omissions in the regulations.
WindEurope’s CEO Giles Dickson referred to the EU’s combined Green Deal Industrial Plan as “a timid step in the right direction,” but expressed concern that the NZIA does not yet establish new EU Funding and Financing mechanisms.
“The EU’s Green Industry Plan falls short as it stands. Fine, let’s aim to make 36 GW of wind turbines in Europe every year. But how? National Governments have some new flexibility to support green industries, though how they’ll use it is unclear.
"Then the EU financial support is still to come. The Sovereignty and Innovation Funds will be key, but the EU must move on from its obsession with technology breakthroughs. Expanding renewable supply chains is a volume game – we simply don’t have enough factories and infrastructure today to build and install the volumes Europe wants.
"It’s good that Governments now have to put a premium on sustainability and resilience in their renewables supply chains – it’s crucial they get the detail right here. So there are lots of things still to get right to ensure this Plan delivers,” Dickson said.
When it comes to the CRMA, WindEurope commended the Commission for adopting a balanced approach on permanent magnets, which are a key component in many wind turbines, but criticised it for not including glass-fibre fabrics as they are very important for the production of wind turbine blades.
Presently, the industry is heavily dependent on imports of such fabrics and while the use of recyclable blades has been initiated as part of certain projects, the Commission should help reduce Europe’s dependencies in this field, WindEurope added.
Meanwhile, SolarPower Europe’s policy director Dries Acke is concerned that the new regulations could slow down solar deployment.
“We worry that the Act and related proposals offer a stick but not a carrot,” he said and continued: “The current proposal is asking Member States to reduce support for technologies from dominant geographies in the supply chains, like solar PV. That’s the stick. If we don’t want to risk slowing solar deployment, we need a bigger carrot, especially in terms of financing solar plants in Europe.
“Last week’s subsidy rule revision doesn’t include support for running solar factories, when European manufacturers face some of the highest energy prices in the world. We need a dedicated financial vehicle for European solar manufacturing, like a Solar Manufacturing Fund or a dedicated EU equity instrument, covering both CAPEX and OPEX.
“The solar sector remains convinced that rewarding high performing ESG solar products in tenders or subsidy schemes is the effective and WTO-compatible way to leverage demand for European, Best-in-Class, solar equipment," Acke concluded.
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