In the pursuit of solar expansion and the domestic market ram-up to create more independence and resilience, the German and European PV industry face a significant hurdle: A cost gap between domestic and third-country modules, particularly from China. Simultaneously, current PV tender designs in EU Member States predominantly center on price, which, while seemingly straightforward, places environmentally and socially sustainable local module producers at a disadvantage. Higher bids stemming from these sustainability efforts lead to limited market access. In order to create a level playing field, other criteria must therefore also be included in public tenders.
The EU, through the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), has already initiated change. Precisely, Articles 19 and 20 of the NZIA propose Non-Financial Criteria (NFC) in PV tenders to counter the cost gap. The German government has also sent an important signal by announcing the expression of interest procedure for lighthouse PV projects, which is also to take non-financial criteria into account. Now, however, it must be ensured that the design, weighting, and validation of these NFC is implemented in such a way that sustainable domestic PV module manufacturers are supported most effectively.
In order to shed more light on this very topic, PVthin hosted a parliamentary breakfast at the KÄFER Dachgarten on top of the Reichstag building (German parliament) on Friday, September 29. The breakfast provided a structured and insightful exploration of NFC in German PV tenders. It brought together various stakeholders, including three members of parliament representing the three parliamentary groups SPD, FDP, and CDU/CSU, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs (BMWK), as well as representatives from associations such as Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzvb), Environmental Action Germany (DUH), the German Energy Agency (dena), and the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU).
Chris Case, President of PVthin and representative of Oxford PV, inaugurated the event, with an introduction of our association, its members, and its vision. This was followed by a presentation on the working paper “Impact mechanisms of non-financial criteria (NFC) and the need for resilience criteria in German PV tenders” delivered by Anja Lange, Director of PVthin and representative of First Solar.
Afterwards, Kaushik Ramakrishnan from the Global Electronics Council, delivered a keynote presentation that shed light on the EPEAT ecolabel’s significance as a potential means to validate NFC. His slide deck can be found in the attachments. The event was further enriched by the contributions of Andreas Jung (Christian Democrats), Timon Gremmels (Social Democrats), and Konrad Stockmeier (Liberals), parliamentary representatives from the Bundestag. While we had expected the participation and input of Katrin Uhlig (Green Party), she, unfortunately, had to cancel at the last minute due to personal reasons. The impulse speeches from the parliamentary representatives were followed by an open questions and discussions segment which allowed for a lively exchange among participants.