The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced yesterday in the State of the Union speech an extraordinary package of measures for the wind industry, but left in the air the aid requested by the photovoltaic industry to cope with the sharp fall in the prices of solar modules.
According to Wind Europe, the European wind power industry's current problems could mean the loss of manufacturing.
The EU and governments have set targets of 420 GW of wind power by 2030. But the reality of the wind industry does not reflect this ambition. And the difficulties in the European supply chain mean that Chinese turbine manufacturers are starting to win orders by offering cheaper turbines, lower standards and unconventional financial conditions. For this reason, the European association believes that "there is a very real risk that the expansion of wind energy will take place in China, not in Europe".
The European Commission's European Wind Energy Package should allow for rapid permitting. Some 80 GW of wind projects are still stuck in bureaucratic processes across Europe. The EU has already introduced new rules this year that will help to speed them up but it is felt that permitting should be as fast as possible.
Auctions also need to improve. Member states have been organizing auctions that undermine the health of the supply chain. Some countries force developers to pay to build wind farms. The costs of so-called negative bids must be passed on to consumers or to an already struggling supply chain. Other countries have not taken inflation into account, resulting in under-subscribed auctions.
Auctions in most countries are largely price-based, which has led to a race to the bottom. This can be avoided, in the industry's view, by applying pre-qualification and non-price criteria. These criteria could reward the social value of the European wind industry.
On the other hand, Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, explained yesterday that "It was good to hear President von der Leyen's commitment to the critical made-in-Europe industry, and that Europe will do whatever it takes to maintain its competitive edge.
This promise must be translated into action. Solar project developers are facing headwinds driven by inflation. European solar manufacturers are at risk of bankruptcy. We have the basis of the EU Solar Strategy. We have the new European Solar Photovoltaic Industry Alliance with the goal of offshoring 30 GW of solar manufacturing in seven years. Europe is betting on solar to drive the energy transition. That means we need continued and decisive action to support grids, accelerate permitting, expand the solar workforce and urgently address the current crisis in the solar supply chain."