In a joint letter, 18 organisations from across the economy, including NGOs and city representatives, the construction, EV, and renewable heating sectors, and flexibility service providers, as well as solar PV and solar thermal industries, call on EU Energy Ministers and the European Parliament to support an ambitious EU solar mandate.
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 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 citizen’s 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 energy 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. At the same time, the European Commission estimates that solar thermal can triple its capacity by 2030, contributing to the decarbonisation of the heating and cooling sector, which represents the main use of Russian gas.
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.
The mandate will send a critical signal to workers and companies to train for the huge numbers of jobs generated by the renewable transition and renovation wave. By 2030, solar thermal will generate 250,000 jobs, while under an EU 45% renewable target for Europe, solar PV will need 880,000 by the same year.
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.
Seda Orhan, CAN Europe Renewable Energy Campaign Coordinator comments: “In the midst of an energy prices crisis where soaring energy bills are pushing more and more people into energy poverty, it’s disheartening to see that there aren’t more roofs with solar PVs on them. Making the installation of solar energy mandatory on our buildings is a ‘winning’ initiative that can empower Europe’s citizens, communities, and businesses to generate their own energy, help Europe wean itself off Russian fossil gas and enhance its energy security, while also reducing emissions. Overall, putting us all on a path to a safer, energy secure future.”