Research in the PV sector: broad approach requested

A few days after the publication of the SET Plan, EPIA provided its comments on the new Commission communication, but also to highlight the potential impact of the PV Strategic Research Agenda and medium term research priorities

Brussels, 27th November 2007 - The final EPIA Round-table in a cycle of 6 debates, running since May 2007, focused on research and development in the photovoltaic (PV) sector and its impact on market development. A few days after the publication of the SET Plan, EPIA took this opportunity to provide its comments on the new Commission communication, but also to highlight the potential impact of the PV Strategic Research Agenda and medium term research priorities




The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), published in June by the European Photovoltaic Technology Platform, provides short to long term research priorities in order to support the PV sector in achieving competitiveness. It is the result of a common work undertaken by all the stakeholders of the PV sector. With well coordinated research activities at national and European levels the industry could deliver products able to compete with retail electricity prices by 2015 in Southern Europe and by 2020 for most of Europe. This would make a significant contribution to reaching the EU's 2020 targets.



The private sector is currently increasing its investments in research, in the near future its contribution is expected to even surpass public funding. This share will increase further as the sector grows. The FP6 (2002-2006) budget for PV research reached approximately 108 million euros, representing around 20% of total public budgets for PV R&D in Europe. In order to implement the SRA and to provide a strategic response to the rapid growth of private sector investments, these figures should be increased by a factor of 2 for the same period of time in the FP7. In view of the share of the EU budget in the total of PV R&D, it is clear that substantial and coordinated efforts will also have to come from Member States.



The Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) presented on 22nd November considers PV as one of the key technologies to contribute to the 2020 targets. In particular, it proposes the "Solar Europe Initiative" (SEI) towards large-scale demonstration for photovoltaics and concentrated solar power in order to realise a significant breakthrough able to raise PV's contribution in Europe's energy mix.



EPIA and the EU PV Technology Platform note with satisfaction that solar has been included within the SET-Plan but would like to stress that it is essential that the EC include both large-scale power plants and small-scale distributed systems, in particular in the built environment, should be considered. Moreover, the SEI should address both market development and technology development, since these are the pillars under the impressive progress in PV so far and are key components for future success.. Finally it is essential that the EC closely involve involves EPIA and the EU PV Technology Platform in the design of the proposed initiative in order to be inline with the sector's needs and experts' views and thus to have maximum chances of success..



EPIA and the EU PV Technology Platform therefore request:

=> A doubling of public budgets for PV research, and as a crucial part of that, a doubling of the PV budget in FP7 compared to FP6;

=> A parallel development of the key PV markets in large scale power plants and distributed systems, especially in the built environment;

=> Close involvement of EPIA and the Photovoltaic Technology Platform in the design of the "Solar Europe Initiative" proposed in the SET plan.

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