The European Union should set an ambitious goal for boosting solar energy capacity across the region as it seeks to free itself from a dependency on Russian gas, according to five member states.
The bloc should have at least 1 000 gigawatts of photovoltaics installed in the region by 2030 — equivalent to roughly the world’s current capacity — according to a joint letter signed by Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Spain to the bloc’s climate chief Frans Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. The EU can deploy at least 70 million solar rooftops by the end of the decade it said.
“Solar rooftops should be the norm for newly built houses and for houses going through a major renovation,” said the letter dated Wednesday, signed by the countries’ energy ministers and seen by Bloomberg. “Every photovoltaic panel reduces immediately and directly our energy dependence from Russia.”
It comes just weeks before the European Commission is set to outline its plan to slash its reliance on Russian gas. The bloc will outline a raft of measures, from speeding up the roll out of renewables to cutting red tape for wind and solar farms, while also kicking off a campaign for consumers to save energy. Possible measures to curb recent electricity market volatility are also being considered.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fears of a potential cutoff from gas — which made up around 40% of imports to the bloc before the war — has spurred the EU to seek other sources of fossil fuels as well as put in place measures to speed up the transition in the long run. In 2021, the EU had around 166 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, according to BloombergNEF.
The EU countries are also calling for 75% of solar panels to be produced within the bloc, which would help boost independence from China, which currently manufacturers the bulk of the world’s photovoltaics.