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European Solar Industry: Capacity, Challenges, and Future Prospects

published: 2024-05-10 17:59

Statistics show that the total photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturing capacity in Europe (including Turkey and Russia) is approximately 21GW, with a staggering 57 companies in operation. However, behind this figure lies a significant fact: only 6 companies have a capacity exceeding 1GW, with the highest being IBC Solar at 3GW. Most companies operate at the hundred-megawatt level. Notably, there are currently no Chinese companies among these capacity statistics.

Geographically, PV module manufacturing companies in Europe are mainly concentrated in Germany and Turkey. Germany, leveraging its strong industrial base and research capabilities, leads European PV module manufacturing with a total capacity of 8.8GW. Key players include IBC Solar (3GW), AE Solar (1.7GW), and Axitec (1.2GW). However, apart from these three, the capacity of the remaining 8 German companies is in the megawatt range, indicating that while PV manufacturing in Germany has a certain scale, overall concentration is not high.

Turkey, as another major PV module manufacturing base in Europe, has a total capacity of 5.3GW. Alfa Solar and Kalyon PV lead with capacities of 1.3GW and 1.2GW, respectively. However, similar to other European countries, PV module manufacturing companies in Turkey generally face issues of small scale and scattered distribution, with the capacity of the remaining 12 companies below 600MW.

Similar to the United States, the upstream scale of the PV manufacturing industry chain in Europe is relatively small. Data shows that Europe's cell production is only about 3.6GW, wafer production is 2.5GW, while silicon material capacity reaches 27.6GW, mostly for export.

In terms of capacity planning, by 2027, Europe's local PV module capacity is expected to reach approximately 63.6GW, cell capacity about 22GW, and wafer capacity is projected to be 17.3GW.

It is worth noting that, in addition to traditional manufacturing powerhouses like Germany and Turkey, France is poised to rise as a new force in establishing vertically integrated capacity. By around 2027, France's module capacity is expected to reach 10.6GW, cell capacity 5.37GW, and wafer capacity 5.5GW. This is closely related to the French government's strong support for local PV companies.

Just this April 5th, French Economy Minister Le Maire stated that the French government will support "Made in France" through subsidies, revising carbon content standards, and other means to reduce dependence on Chinese products.

Representative local PV companies in France, such as Holosolis, Carbon, and RECOM, are all receiving special attention from the government.

Specifically, Carbon plans to build a 15GW vertically integrated production base by 2025, covering wafers, cells, and modules. By 2030, the company plans to increase total capacity to 20GW. Another local company, Holosolis, plans to build a 5GW module factory by 2025. Government support measures include providing up to 2.2 billion euros in investment, additional tax breaks, and other financial support for Carbon and Holosolis.

To rescue the local industry, the EU has taken a series of measures. On April 15th, 23 EU member states signed the "European Solar Charter," pledging support for the European PV manufacturing industry. On April 26th, the EU formally adopted the "Net Zero Industry Act" (NZIA), aiming for Europe's local capacity to meet 40% of annual installed capacity by 2030. These measures aim to enhance the competitiveness and self-sufficiency of Europe's local PV manufacturing industry.

However, it is worth noting that the "European Solar Charter" is a voluntary action document and does not impose mandatory requirements on member states. Therefore, the actual impact of the document on PV manufacturing remains to be seen.


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