A strong Solar Mandate will provide the needed predictability to all industry players

EuropeOn joined 17 other organisations ranging from NGOs to energy industry players and city representatives in a joint letter to call on EU policymakers to ensure the EU Solar Mandate proposed by the Commission keeps the needed level of ambition to ensure solar energy can play its role in mitigating climate change, providing clean energy to consumers and contribute to the phase out of imported fossil fuels.

More importantly for electrical installers, this will provide a good level of predictability and certainty that solar is the way forward for buildings, enabling them to invest in their workforce and skills to turn this challenge into a job engine. By 2030, under an EU 45% renewable target, solar PV would need 880,000 professionals. 

In May 2022, the European Commission proposed an EU Solar Rooftop Initiative, as part of REPowerEU plans to disentangle the continent from fossil gas dependency. To maximise the potential of the Initiative within the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the letter urges the inclusion of an EU requirement to install solar on all new and renovated buildings, as well as existing non-residential buildings.

Signatories underline that every additional solar kWh reduces European dependency on gas and other fossil fuels – solar heat and solar PV combined with electric heat pumps or vehicles offer a comprehensive fossil-free solution for heating and mobility. While gas price volatility threatens European citizens and businesses, the payback time of solar energy on buildings is steadily decreasing. Buildings offer immense solar deployment potential, allowing citizens to generate their own energy while reducing electricity bills and providing services to the grid thanks to their demand-side flexibility. According to the European Joint Research Centre, solar PV on buildings can deliver 25% of Europe’s annual electricity demand, equal to the electricity consumption of Germany and Poland combined.  

An ambitious EU solar mandate is necessary to accelerate the solar roll-out at a crucial time. Through a solar requirement, Europe can reduce citizen and societal costs by decreasing companies’ marketing expenditure, while promoting collective self-consumption energy models. The letter also points to the significant role of an ambitious solar mandate in supporting the necessary deep renovation of Europe’s building stock (which accounts for 36% of EU CO2 emissions) and ensuring that buildings are well-integrated into an efficient and decarbonised energy system.

This letter also outlines some enabling measures that should accompany the EU Solar Mandate, including setting up the right framework to secure the sufficient numbers of skilled professionals. One of the ways EU policymakers can address this aspect is by ensuring Member States assess the gap between the available and needed workforce and set up training and upskilling programs and facilities accordingly.

Legislation to install obligatory solar on buildings is already occurring throughout Europe. Countries such as Belgium (Flanders), the Netherlands, and Switzerland have solar mandates on existing buildings in place. In 7 EU countries, there is a solar mandate on renovated buildings, and in 9 EU countries, there is a solar mandate on new buildings. Now is the time to make it an EU norm.