European Parliament and EU Council have reached an agreement on new regulations aimed at enhancing the viability of solar manufacturing within the region. The move comes amidst growing concerns regarding the sustainability of the European solar manufacturing industry.
Under the provisions of the Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA), EU member states will be mandated to implement non-price pre-qualification and award criteria for renewables projects. These criteria, which include considerations such as responsible business conduct, cybersecurity, data security, and project delivery timelines, are poised to stimulate investment in renewable power projects across the EU.
Dries Acke, policy director at SolarPower Europe, hailed the agreement as a positive and balanced approach that will provide much-needed support to EU solar manufacturers. Acke remarked, “This is a positive and measured approach which will help EU solar manufacturers finance project pipelines, knowing that there is reliable demand for their product.”
Furthermore, the NZIA regulates the procurement of net zero technology products, including solar modules, stipulating that member states can source only 50% of modules in auctions from a single country per year.
Additionally, the agreement streamlines permitting processes, setting time limits for the construction or expansion of manufacturing projects. Larger projects exceeding 1GW capacity will be subject to an 18-month permitting timeframe, while smaller projects will have a 12-month window. Expedited timelines will be established for strategic projects.
Moreover, the regulation seeks to foster the development of “net zero acceleration valleys,” defined as territories concentrating various companies involved in specific technologies. These valleys aim to create clusters of net zero industrial activities, enhancing the EU's attractiveness as a manufacturing hub and simplifying administrative procedures for establishing net zero manufacturing capacity.
While the agreement remains provisional pending endorsement and formal adoption by the EU Council and European Parliament institutions, Solar Power Europe underscored the significance of ongoing support for the European solar manufacturing industry. Acke stressed the need for immediate action to safeguard manufacturers, emphasizing that while the NZIA signals a positive step forward, urgent intervention is required to address the industry's pressing challenges.
As the EU moves forward with implementing these regulations, stakeholders remain hopeful that the measures will contribute to revitalizing the European solar manufacturing sector and advancing the region's renewable energy goals.