Brussels, 9th September 2022 – The Commission’s initiative to urgently enact emergency measures against skyrocketing energy prices signals the need for a faster decarbonization of our energy system. The Solar Heating & Cooling sector stresses the need to reduce both electricity and gas demand, using renewable heating solutions, such as solar thermal.
Since 2021, Europe is facing a challenging energy crisis, that has been made more complex by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Gas and electricity prices are skyrocketing, putting the security, competitiveness, and decarbonization of Europe at danger. With a worrying outlook for the upcoming winter, the European Union and the Member States must take action to protect consumers and businesses.
Therefore, Solar Heat Europe welcomes the Commission’s initiative to urgently evaluate emergency measures, which was announced by President von der Leyen on September 7th and discussed by national ministers during today’s Extraordinary Energy Council meeting.
“EU member states are making a huge effort to address the skyrocketing energy prices. This is an essential effort.” commented Costas Travasaros, President of Solar Heat Europe. “Still, it is, in its essence, palliative care. We need to continue the therapy that will bring a cure to our energy system, and that is decarbonisation,” he added.
Key messages from solar heat
First, reducing gas consumption and electricity demand alleviate the pressure on energy prices. To do so, the Heating & Cooling sector is of paramount importance, as it represents half of the final energy consumption in the EU and the main use of gas. Today, it is even more evident that a higher focus must be placed on renewable heating and cooling technologies, such as solar heat.
Secondly, the energy transition must be accelerated. Emergency measures are needed to face the current crisis, but they should not undermine Europe’s strategy to decarbonize the energy sector. Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels is the cause of this crisis, while renewables are the solution. Therefore, the EU and the Member States must step up their efforts to enable a massive and quick deployment of renewable sources, both for electricity and heat generation. A relevant example for solar heat is the swift adoption and implementation of the Solar Rooftop Initiative proposed as part of REPowerEU, to ensure that we substantially increase the use of solar technologies (solar thermal and/or solar photovoltaics) on our rooftops.
Third, while implementing essential support measures to protect consumers and companies, it is key to ensure transparency on the use of financial resources. End-users should not be left alone facing this crisis, but they must be aware of what caused this crisis in the first place, namely Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels and, in particular, Russian gas. Therefore, the costs related to initiatives to reduce the burden on citizens and companies should be communicated in a clear and transparent way to taxpayers.
“We provide a sustainable and competitive solution that contributes to reduce both electricity and gas consumption,” mentioned Pedro Dias, Secretary General of Solar Heat Europe. “Solar heat generation costs are as low as €30/MWh and the cumulative thermal energy storage capacity exceeds 180 GWh. These factor place solar thermal as a key contributor to cover demand for space and water heating, using EU made renewable energy solutions.” he added.
Note for the editors:
About Solar Heat Europe:
Solar Heat Europe/ESTIF’s mission is to achieve the prioritisation and acceptance of solar heat as a key element for sustainable heating and cooling in Europe and to work for the implementation of all necessary steps to realise the high potential of solar heat. With members in more than 15 European countries, Solar Heat Europe represents directly or indirectly over 90% of the industry, across the value chain. Solar Heat Europe published in June 2022 a solar thermal roadmap: Energising Europe with Solar Heat.
About Solar Heating and Cooling
Solar thermal offers key advantages that makes it essential to the solution of this crisis:
- It directly converts solar energy into thermal energy, so it is decoupled from electricity prices.
- It is 100% renewable energy, not being dependent on the carbon content of the electricity supply, so it does not jeopardize the European decarbonization strategy.
- It is a long-established and competitive solution, with a strong European industrial base that supplies the large majority of the European market and is a net exporting sector.
- It does not require critical minerals and most of the components are widely available via several supply channels; while trying to contain the damages of a dangerous strategic dependency on Russia, it is crucial that Europe does not establish other strategic dependencies, notably with China.