Solar energy could become the EU’s fastest-growing energy source by 2020 following the European Commission’s (EC) decision to lift trade tariffs on solar panel imports from China, Sun Investment Group said on Thursday.
Europe could begin to reap the benefit of the lifted tariffs in as little as a few weeks as solar module prices in Europe could drop by as much as 30 percent, the Group said.
The EU is seeking to meet its renewable energy targets by 2020 by encouraging member states to have 15 percent of total energy consumption from renewable sources. A target for 2030 has also been set to expand this percentage of renewables in the energy mix to 32 percent.
Experts believe the decision will help end the trade war with Beijing and described it as a “watershed moment for European solar energy."
"The whole PV sector is going to benefit greatly from this change. Solar energy is already the most competitive form of energy in Southern Europe," Deividas Varabauskas, CEO of Sun Investment Group said, adding that the lifting of tariffs was long overdue.
Varabauskas stressed that with the cost of CO2 emission rights on the rise and with the reduction in solar module costs, solar would most likely become the most competitive form of energy in the larger part of the EU by 2020.
He hailed the EC's decision to lift the Minimum Import Price (MIP) that came on Sept. 3 as a benefit to investors, consumers and policy makers.
The MIP will instantly bring lower prices for solar modules, which means that solar energy will become an even more attractive form of energy because of its cost-savings, he affirmed.
The lifted tariffs on imported solar panels from China to the EU will also lead to increased investments in the solar energy industry. Demand growth in solar installations will lead to the creation of new jobs for the investment, construction, and maintenance of solar power plants, he continued.
"In 2013, the EC imposed tariffs of up to 64.9 percent on the original price of solar panels imported from China, after accusing Beijing of selling subsidized panels below cost in Europe," the Group explained.
The tariffs were imposed to protect European solar panel manufacturers, who at the time faced losing 25,000 jobs as a result of cheaper Chinese imports.
By Gulsen Cagatay