Today’s Solutions: March 23, 2023

Countries are speeding up efforts to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources, not just for the sake of the climate, but also to build independence from Russian petroleum. Germany accelerated its own schedule to become 100 percent renewable, seeing the danger to its energy sector that Russia posed, and now the European Commission is following suit.

To help wean countries off Russian fossil fuels, the European Commission is proposing an impressive rollout of solar energy and restructuring its entire solar manufacturing industry.

Even though solar photovoltaic (PV) costs have gone down by more than 80 percent over the past 10 years, solar only accounted for five percent of EU’s electricity in 2020, and its share in heat production sat at a very low 1.5 percent.

“Solar electricity and heat are key for phasing out EU’s dependence on Russian natural gas,” the Commission wrote in the draft which is set to be published this week in a package of proposals to end the European Union’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.

The solar rooftop plan

The scheme launched by Brussels called the “European Solar Rooftops Initiative,” would oblige the EU and national governments to provide funding and launch support programs for the installation of rooftop panels and solar energy in all suitable public buildings by 2025. 

According to EU Green lawmaker Michael Bloss, “the solar turnaround has never been tackled in concrete terms.” Thus, he, along with other countries like Austria, Lithuania, and Spain, calls for Brussels to handle the transition to clean energy with legal tools instead of voluntary schemes. This means legally requiring new buildings to have solar rooftops on flat roofs, public buildings, and supermarkets across Europe.

Another EU plan hopes to bring together governments and training providers to focus on educating solar sector workers, while an “EU Solar Industry Alliance” would put the bloc’s budget and carbon market “innovation fund” to use by supporting investments in manufacturing. 

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