In a statement to the European Parliament on Monday, European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness emphasized the necessity of aligning ambitious solar power targets with potential measures to restrict imports of photovoltaic panels and components. McGuinness stated, “Given that we currently rely to a very important degree on imports to reach EU solar deployment targets, any potential measure needs to be weighed against the objectives we have set ourselves when it comes to the energy transition.”
At present, a substantial 97% of solar panels used in Europe are imported, primarily from China. The European Commission has set a formidable target of achieving 750 gigawatts of solar generation capacity by 2030, marking a significant increase from the 260 gigawatts recorded in 2023.
McGuinness addressed concerns raised by Europe's solar panel manufacturing sector, which faces pricing pressure from Chinese imports. She acknowledged the industry's plea for emergency interventions, including the rapid acquisition of surplus inventories of EU solar modules and potential “safeguard” measures like import tariffs and quotas if necessary.
Recognizing the global oversupply contributing to a more than 40% reduction in solar panel prices, McGuinness highlighted upcoming rules mandating public authorities to consider factors beyond price in clean-tech equipment tenders. This includes ensuring diversified sourcing and limiting reliance on a single supplier to no more than 65%.
Moreover, McGuinness pointed out that, under flexible state aid rules, the Commission has approved nine initiatives with a budget exceeding 12 billion euros for clean-tech equipment, including solar panels. The Commissioner's remarks reflect a balanced approach, acknowledging the challenges posed by imports while striving to meet ambitious renewable energy targets.