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Four trends to watch for in solar PV in Europe in 2023

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Energy Global,


Timo Moeller, Chief Growth Officer for NovaSource Power Services, provides insight into a few of the trends to watch for the next year in solar, and gives a forecast for the year ahead.

With all things considered, 2023 is shaping up to be an integral year in shaping the future of renewable energy. Uncertainty remains when it comes to Europe’s energy supply, and many countries are now finding it necessary to make long term decisions regarding which direction they take their energy systems. It is more important than ever to pay close attention to the trends that are set to shape the energy decisions made in the months ahead – not only will they have long term effects on our energy systems, but better understanding the state of the energy transition will be key to running a better business in the years ahead.

With that said, here are four trends which could have an outsized impact on the development of solar energy in Europe in 2023.

Energy security as a key driver for capacity growth

The situation between Russia and Ukraine does not appear to be ending anytime soon, and making informed decisions right now will be integral in ensuring the secondary effects are not even more severe than those we have already seen.

Countries, such as Germany, are already seeing soaring energy bills, and long-established industrial companies are having their business models thrown into question based on these unprecedented costs. Solar energy cuts out the reliance on foreign fossil fuels, and allows countries to take control of their energy supply. Building up a large fleet of solar power plants can provide security from future black swan events and take geopolitical risk out of something as fundamental as a reliable energy supply.

A growing reliance on data to drive value

Analytics platforms and improved data aggregation are becoming increasingly important in delivering value to owners and operators of solar plants. These technologies allow for the collection and analysis of large amounts of data from solar plants, which can be used to optimise performance and identify areas for improvement. With real-time monitoring, analytics platforms (such as NovaSource’s soon-to-be launched Novalytics platform) can detect and diagnose issues quickly, reducing downtime and increasing overall plant efficiency. This falls in line with an increased reliance on data in the tech sector at large, and shows the ability for solar PV to bring more digitisation to the energy sector.

Additionally, by aggregating data from multiple solar plants, owners, and operators can gain valuable insights into investing in a more decentralised energy system, and work towards optimising portfolios that no longer need to be closely located. As a result, the use of analytics platforms and data aggregation is helping to drive the growth of the solar energy sector, allowing owners and operators to maximise the value of their assets and make data-driven decisions that improve the overall performance of their solar plants.

The re-emergence of regional solar industries

There were times in the past decade when Europe’s domestic solar manufacturing industry has looked as good as dead. Once a global powerhouse in all things energy transition, recent years had seen the EU come to rely on Asian and American made panels to grow its renewables capacities. It looks like the tide is finally turning.

There is now a renewed desire to develop more local manufacturing,1 and several promising European players like Meyer Burger and Voltec are throwing their hats in the ring. Much of this renewed desire comes from the the REpowerEU initiative,2 which calls for a massive scale up of renewable energy, with a target of 45% renewables by 2030.

Moving a share of the manufacturing back to Europe will not only allow for a more sustainable process, with shipping emissions greatly reduced, but it will also provide a large number of jobs in the green economy. With the ever-accelerating phase out of Europe’s coal industry, bringing more energy jobs to the continent would be a welcome development.

The globalisation of the solar industry

Lastly, there is now a solar industry being seen with a much more global footprint. The last several years saw the emergence of new solar hot spots, such as Vietnam3 and Poland4, and many of these newer regions benefitted greatly by already established expertise gained abroad.

Having solar PV emerge as a globally available energy source, devoid of many of the inherent challenges associated with the fossil fuel industry, (namely inequality due to the unequal distribution of fossil fuel deposits) will have wide reaching benefits around the globe. This also harkens back to one of the previous points – a more interconnected decentralised energy system greatly increases the data available to further optimise the system.

Although it has been clear for those in the industry for years now, an era is now being entered where the wider rollout of solar is inevitable, and this in itself should bode well for pushing growth in the industry. These surely will not be the only stories to shape the narrative of the global solar industry in 2023, but they are ones that have considerable momentum and can play a positive role in industry growth.

References

  1. JACOBO, J. T., ‘‘Business risks must be mitigated’: fresh calls for upstream PV manufacturing support in Europe’, PV-Tech, (12 January 2023), https://www.pv-tech.org/business-risks-must-be-mitigated-fresh-calls-for-upstream-pv-manufacturing-support-in-europe/
  2. ‘REPowerEU: affordable, secure and sustainable energy for Europe’, European Commission, https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal/repowereu-affordable-secure-and-sustainable-energy-europe_en
  3. ‘Solar power in Vietnam attained a 25-fold increase in terms of generation capacity’, World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/02/viet-nam-solar-power-surge/
  4. ‘Poland has installed third most solar capacity in EU this year’, Notes from Poland, (20 December 2022), https://notesfrompoland.com/2022/12/20/poland-has-installed-third-most-solar-capacity-in-eu-this-year/

 

For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Winter 2022 issue

The Winter 2022 issue of Energy Global hosts an array of technical articles focusing on wind, solar, energy storage, geothermal, and more. This issue also features a regional report on the Australian renewables sector.

Read the article online at: https://www.energyglobal.com/special-reports/31012023/four-trends-to-watch-for-in-solar-pv-in-europe-in-2023/

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