SolarPower Europe

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Brussels, Belgium

Climate Lobbying Overview: SolarPower Europe is actively and positively engaging with all strands of EU energy and climate policy, particularly renewable energy legislation. The association is also strongly supportive of a zero-emissions energy mix, including electrification of transport. It also strongly supports the EU’s target of reducing GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: SolarPower Europe’s top-line messaging on climate change is highly positive. In a 2021 joint letter to the EU Commission, the association supported GHG emission reductions in line with a 1.5°C target. It has also expressed support for the EU’s target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, in a separate joint letter published in October 2021. SolarPower Europe, in a joint letter released in March 2019, called on the European Commission to strengthen its regulatory response to climate change, and to “make better use of financial instruments and allocate public expenditure only to investments that support the achievement of the EU’s climate and energy goals”.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: SolarPower Europe has mixed engagement on carbon pricing and emissions trading. In a December 2020 report, it questioned the impact that a potential Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism in the EU would have on the solar industry’s competitiveness, a position it reaffirmed in a March 2021 consultation submission to the EU on the mechanism. As part of the Electrification Alliance, in a June 2021 joint paper SolarPower Europe advocated for increasing the ambition of the EU ETS and suggested exploring its expansion to the heating and road transport sectors. However, in a July 2021 press release, SolarPower Europe rejected expanding the EU ETS to road transport, instead favoring policy in the form of emissions performance standards for vehicles, while still supporting a stronger ETS carbon price to accelerate the energy transition.

SolarPower Europe is a prominent and consistent advocate for EU renewable energy legislation. In a 2020 position paper, it proposed a series of measures to boost renewable energy, as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. In comments submitted to a 2021 consultation on the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, SolarPower Europe argued for increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy demand to at least 45% by 2030. In a June 2021 press release on the EU’s Fit for 55 package, SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger, also called for increased ambition in the EU’s renewable energy targets. SolarPower Europe led efforts throughout 2016-17 to raise the EU 2030 renewables target to 35%, praising the EU Parliament’s decision in November 2017 to support such an increase.

The association is also supportive of energy efficiency legislation, advocating in a February 2021 EU consultation for higher binding energy efficiency targets under the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. SolarPower Europe strongly supported an increase in the EU’s 2030 GHG emission reduction target to at least 55% by 2030 in a joint letter sent to the EU Commission in June 2021.

Positioning on Energy Transition: SolarPower Europe strongly supports a transition to renewable energy and a greater role for solar energy, based on their website accessed in May 2021. In February 2020, the association advocated for a transition to a zero-emissions energy mix in comments submitted to the EU’s consultation on the Renewable Energy Directive. It has also supported revising the EU’s Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive and TEN-T regulation to advance electrification of transport and roll-out of EVs, in a 2021 joint position paper released by the Electrification Alliance. Additionally, in the same paper, it advocated for revising the Energy Taxation Directive to reduce direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels.

In its response to a June 2021 EU consultation on the Hydrogen and Gas Market Decarbonization Package, SolarPower Europe advocated for focusing market uptake measures on renewable hydrogen, stating that blending hydrogen with natural gas ‘should not be incentivized and be approached with caution’. In addition, SolarPower Europe supported the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy in a June 2020 consultation, stressing that 100% renewable hydrogen will be needed to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors. SolarPower Europe also directly advocated to the EU Commission in 2020 to utilize state aid rules to rapidly deploy renewable hydrogen for hard-to-abate sectors. SolarPower Europe CEO, Walburga Hemetsberger, further reiterated the association’s support for renewable hydrogen on social media.