On 19 October, 18 European organisations including representatives of solar photovoltaics (PV), construction SMEs, NGOs, cities, electric contractors, electric vehicles (EV), solar thermal and renewable heating sectors have issued a joint statement addressed to EU Energy Ministers and the European Parliament to call for an ambitious EU solar mandate. EBC contributed to the drafting of the statement and has offered its endorsement, noting the key role that construction SMEs are playing in the installation of solar systems atop Europe’s rooftops.
The initiative comes following the proposal in May 2022 by the European Commission for an EU Solar Rooftop Initiative, as part of REPowerEU plans to disentangle the continent from fossil gas dependency. In this vein, the Commission proposed additional amendment to a number of legislative files under revision, including the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). To maximise the potential of the EU Solar Rooftop Initiative within the EPBD, the joint statement calls for a strong mandate for on-site solar installations in the EPBD, on the basis of the proposal put forward by the European Commission.
The statement advocates for an EU solar requirement on all new and renovated buildings, as well as existing non-residential buildings. Signatories point to the need for a mandate to accelerate the solar roll out to support Europe’s independence from fossil fuels, protect Europeans from price volatility, and achieve European climate goals.
The signatories recognize that on-site solar sector is SME-heavy and contributes to the creation of local, qualified, and sustainable jobs. SMEs are at the heart of solar rooftop installations and this acquis must be preserved in view of the ambition to multiply the installation of solar panels across the EU. Construction SMEs, and especially micro companies active in the installation of solar PV panels and solar thermal panels, should be given adequate financial and technical support to ensure a pool of qualified companies and installers to deliver on this ambitious task.
The statement underlines that the right regulatory and financing framework must be established to support consumer access to solar building solutions. Financing schemes must be made available to SMEs and low-income and vulnerable households on the European and national level to reduce the investment needs for a solar system. These should include grants, innovative funding schemes such as revolving funds and the use of the Recovery and Resilience Facility REPowerEU Chapter and additional EU and national funds. The obligation to deploy solar installations on buildings should not qualify as a “Union standard” within the meaning of State aid rules because it depends on criteria specified by Member States. On top of this, Member States shall ensure to have sufficient human resources to design financing schemes that fit the requirements at the national and local levels.
The deployment of solar installations atop European SMEs could be envisaged to promote self-consumption, for example by incentivising SMEs to make use of solar panels on their premises to facilitate the installation of EV charging infrastructure. This could also contribute to the development of local energy communities, fostering the democratization of energy production and incentivizing energy efficiency for citizens and SMEs.
Finally, the statement also calls for One-stop shops (OSS) to be established at the municipal level, to raise awareness and guarantee access to information for citizens. OSS must provide comprehensive comparative information about all renewable and energy efficiency technologies, also stressing the benefits of integrating multiple solutions and undertaking comprehensive deep renovations. In addition, they should inform citizens and SMEs about energy efficiency and solar support schemes.
SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger stated: “The solution to lowering energy bills, ensuring energy security, and meeting our climate ambitions is right over our heads: rooftop solar. An ambitious solar requirement on all buildings will support the rapid roll out of efficient, decarbonised solar buildings, while encouraging the expansion of the necessary green workforce.”
EBC Secretary General Fernando Sigchos Jiménez noted: “Construction SMEs are at the heart of the Renovation Wave and the European Green Deal, as well as key actors for solar installations on our rooftops. Provided that citizens and SMEs are accompanied with the necessary financial and technical support, and that the essential skills to make this a reality are secured, a solar rooftop mandate could help accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable building sector.“
|To read the joint statement on the EU Solar Mandate, click here|
To read EBC’s feedback on the EC proposal for the revision of the EPBD, .