The EU is to step up cooperation with India on solar power, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced on a visit there this week that aimed to strengthen technology and security ties between Brussels and Delhi.
Her visit comes as the EU faces the delicate balancing act of trying to prevent dual use technology reaching Russia without stopping exports to India, which has remained officially neutral over the invasion of Ukraine.
“We need to step up our cooperation,” von der Leyen said in a speech at the International Solar Alliance. “We can learn from each other how to finance, promote and deploy solar energy.”
She stressed the need to secure global supply chains for the materials that make solar panels. Next month, the EU will present a new solar strategy, she confirmed.
Concern is mounting in Brussels that the EU is dangerously reliant on China for its solar panels. The invasion of Ukraine and the bloc’s attempt to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels has focused minds on energy dependency.
In late March, energy commissioner Kadri Simson told an industry conference that the EU’s bid to end dependence on Russia meant there is a “renewed political will and a practical need for boosting our renewables capacity” in Europe. “We need to bring manufacturing back to Europe and the Commission is willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen,” she said.
In 2008, Europe boasted more than 40% of the world’s solar panel manufacturing capacity. But in recent years this has collapsed to just 3%, according to a recent analysis from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems.
Asian producers now account for 95% of current manufacturing. China alone makes two thirds of solar capacity.
India is also seeking to expand its solar manufacturing capacity, as it relies on China for imports.
“Large imports of solar PV panels pose risks in supply chain resilience and have strategic security challenges considering the electronic (hackable) nature of the value chain,” Delhi warned in 2020 while announcing big investment subsidies for the industry.
India and the EU already have a history of cooperating on solar power. In 2015, France and India founded the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to drive deployment of solar power, particularly in poorer countries.
The Alliance and EU “have a particular interest in enabling the future energy growth in Africa to be based on solar energy,” said <span lang="…….