L R AS Published on Sunday 14 November 2021 - n° 382 - Categories:Europe

The state of renewable energy in the European Union

The European Commission has published its second annual assessment of the competitiveness of the renewable energy technology industries in the EU. It plans to draft legislation to simplify the licensing of clean energy projects next year.

It highlights

the EU's status as a world leader in solar R&D, silicon production, operation and maintenance of PV projects and the manufacture of system balancing components such as inverters and trackers. It found that the EU has fallen to third place in the market for "high value-added innovation" in the solar energy sector. It has been overtaken by South Korea

panels As European exports of solar panels have stagnated for years, the volume of imported panels, from China and other Asian countries, has increased to a trade deficit of 5.7 billion euros in 2019. For cells, a growing number of European manufacturers are announced. European producers are ahead of their rivals in terms of the volume generated by the panels during their lifetime, their lower energy intensity (due to the quality of the electricity used)

On green hydrogenIn addition, the Commission recalls that the EU has a strong research base for electrolysers. It points out that clean energy production capacity is likely to be the only constraint to green hydrogen production in the immediate future, as each unit of gas produced requires 1.5 units of green electricity. Hence the idea of using the Middle East and North Africa to produce synthetic fuels for trucks, aviation, shipping, etc.

Concerning heat pumpsThe Commission has warned of a European decline: the €249 million trade surplus that mainly heating appliances brought to the bloc in 2015 turned into a €40 million deficit last year.She points out that a typical seasonal coefficient of three for these appliances means that one kilowatt-hour of electricity is needed for every kWh of heat they produce, ensuring that heat pumps will only be competitive on the most expensive days of the year. This ensures that heat pumps will only be competitive in markets where the price of electricity is not more than three times that of gas. The price of electricity is between 1.5 and 5.5 times higher than the price of fossil fuel in EU Member States.

Batteries Lithium-ion batteries: the Commission is promoting the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, which should make Europe the world's second largest producer by 2025. This risks increasing dependence on key raw materials such as cobalt, lithium, graphite, silicon, titanium and niobium, as well as nickel, a more abundant raw material but one whose use is limited.This is a more abundant raw material, but the EU still depends on imports for 56% of its demand. For solar manufacturing, the EU is already concerned about boron, gallium, germanium and indium, especially if its major cell and module manufacturing projects go ahead. The bloc is also dependent on Asian companies to equip its battery cell production lines.

Electric vehicles The cost of batteries is still the main concern. Grid-scale stationary devices cost around €300-400/kWh and domestic systems - of which Germany has two-thirds of the 2.3 GWh European market - cost twice as much.

Raw materials, once again, were the main concern cited in relation to the EU's global position in the green hydrogen market, with South African iridium and platinum and Chinese rare earth metals in the firing line.


PV Magazine 11 November 2021

Editor's note This review of the various factors seems encouraging. However, documents from political authorities, even European ones, are always biased towards the inevitable satisfaction that everything is going well in the area in question. This unfortunate tendency can be seen here.

Subscribe to the newsletter "Le Fil de l'Actu"...

Most read articles in the last 10 days

Most read articles in the last month