Keeping environmental and social sustainability at the heart of Fit for 55

European Commission Green Deal 2021

Image: European Commission releases its Fit for 55 plan to reach climate goals on 14 July 2021

The EU will require a wide variety of technological solutions to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. When prioritising green technologies and sustainable solutions it will be key to look at the whole life cycle to ensure a low environmental footprint, adaptability and reliability. This is also true for renewable energy generation, where thin-film photovoltaic technologies have a crucial role to play in achieving Europe’s climate ambitions.

The Fit for 55 Legislative Package presented on 14 July positions the European Union as a frontrunner in cutting emissions during the next decade, helping to deliver the European Green Deal. The European Commission put forward twelve initiatives in the area of energy, industry, transport and heating of buildings for the 27 Member States and the European Parliament to negotiate in the coming months.

The proposals include revisions of the EU Emissions Trading System, a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, the Effort Sharing Regulation, a revision of the Energy Tax Directive, amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive, and more. A Hydrogen and Gas Decarbonization Package and a revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, two other flagship initiatives, are expected to follow by the end of the year.

PVthin welcomes the legislative proposals and encourages EU Member States and the European Parliament to work further to increase the uptake of solar PV and thin-film technologies. The Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) review proposes a number of amendments that will have a significant impact on our sector. These include an increase in the share of renewable energy in the EU mix to 40% by 2030 and a requirement for Member States to establish national frameworks governing support schemes for renewables and measures to facilitate Power Purchase Agreements.

The review of the RED will undoubtedly lead to more solar PV installations in EU Member States. In line with strengthening national frameworks for renewable support schemes and Power Purchase Agreements – Articles 1(2c) 1(5a) and 15(c) – PVthin underlines the  need to ensure that basic sustainability and social criteria are included for renewable energy, complementing the EU’s ambitions under the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Ecodesign Directive and Sustainable Products Initiative, and the Sustainable Corporate Governance Initiative.

By including, for example, a carbon footprint criterion in support schemes, EU Member States have the opportunity to prioritise technologies that are produced sustainably. This would be in line with ongoing work by the Commission to develop Ecodesign requirements for PV, including on carbon footprint. Oversight measures for safe labour conditions and human rights must also be integrated, ensuring that renewable energy producers contribute to a fair and just transition.

PVthin will continue to closely monitor the developments regarding the new Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) proposal which aims to put a carbon price on imported goods, such as aluminium, which is highly used in the thin-film value chain.

PVthin looks forward to working with its partners in the solar value chain to support the upcoming legislative negotiations between the European Parliament and Council.

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