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Solar Industry Roundtable Interview

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A roundtable magazine interview on the future of the solar industry.

A roundtable magazine interview on the future of the solar industry.

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  • 1. ROUNDTABLE Solar/PV roundtable The most talked-about feature in PES returns, with a fresh selection of questions for the industry’s most incisive and intelligent commentators. Their approaches may differ, but rest assured that you’re getting the very best analysis that the industry can provide.12 PES: Europe
  • 2. ROUNDTABLEContributors BETTINA WEISS PAUL BRODY ISABEL BOIRA- BRUCE CROSS JOHN MEADOWS ANDREAS WEISHEIT Executive Director, PV Global Electronics SEGARRA Managing Director, Managing Director, Global Flat Panel Group, SEMI Industry Leader, IBM Sector Leader for GB-Sol SCHOTT Solar UK Display/Solar and Asia Global Business Renewables, Europe, Market Development, Services EC Harris Linde ElectronicsPES: Do you think we will see a timewhen energy produced by solar/PV is consumed at the point of demand and is integrated within the fabric of the built “Within Europe, it isbecomes a major export for Europe’ssun-blessed countries? environment. In Europe’s sunniest countries where there is also enough land to install possible to export ‘know-Paul Brody: Yes, I believe that will be ground-mounted farms, it can be deployed how’, and markets like at a significantly larger scale, makingpossible. Cross-border power generationand sales are already standard practices exports more feasible. Spain and Germanyin the utility industry and solar are likely Places like North Africa have the greatest are already exportingto be no exception. There is certain to be potential for exporting solar energy aschallenges unique to solar including the fact solar irradiation is high, land is more readily knowledge on how to available and local demand is lower. Withinthat output cannot be guaranteed. Europe, it is possible to export ‘know-how’ develop and implementAdditionally, Feed-in Tariffs which haveoften been very generous to consumers and markets like Spain and Germany are already exporting knowledge on how to solar projects”are usually backed with state guarantees develop and implement solar projects. Thisor direct or indirect subsidies. That will not is likely to continue further in the coming Isabel Boira-Segarraeasily be applied to cross border outputs. years bringing associated economic benefits to those economies. Solar power plants can work more efficientlyGiven the fact that solar energy as of today in regions with greater sunlight. So it wouldrepresents a relatively small share, the John Meadows: The grid is actually the be more economical to use part of thepriority will likely be consumption within bottleneck. Spain for example, with its huge subsidies from central European countries tothe home country first and export only potential for solar energy, is essentially an build solar power plants in Southern Europe.once a threshold of solar in the mix has island when it comes to energy with hardly This can contribute to the target to increasebeen reached. Initiatives like Desertec, for any connection to the rest of Europe. This the share of renewable energy, and makeexample, will of course be a completely situation therefore needs to be looked at better use of the taxpayer’s money. Germandifferent situation – as its primary goal is to more closely at the European level, and finance minister Schaeuble has suggestedexport. grid expansion across borders needs to recently to build solar power plants in be encouraged. The good news is that Greece and to import clean electricity. I thinkIsabel Boira-Segarra: The potential for politicians have recognised this problemsolar energy is significant both across this is a trend that we will see more in the and first actions are being taken, there is, futureEurope and on a wider global level. The however still a long way to go.stability of the regulatory environment PES: Do you feel there is still some waycoupled with cost reductions associated Andreas Weisheit: The solar industry has to go in PV being taken seriously bywith economies of scale and learning, will been able to grow to the size where it is consumers and legislators as a viablebe crucial in determining how quickly it today thanks to subsidies and Feed-in source of energy?takes off. Tarifs. In the long run it needs to become self sustainable and to reach grid parity. Paul Brody: We believe the market isCurrently there are a number of countries In regions with high sun radiation such as maturing and the PV providers are maturingin Europe with some type of Feed-in Tariff Italy this will be reached soon, while it will as well. A tipping point is near. As quoted inmechanism to incentivise investment in solar take longer for Germany which is the largest the recently published EPIA report ‘Globalas it still remains too expensive to deploy on market for solar modules today. Eventually, Market Outlook for Photovoltaics till 2015’,a large-scale basis without financial support. both industry and governments will need to in 2010 in Europe alone PV was leadingSolar PV has great potential across Europe consider how the available subsidies will be the renewable energy sector with 13.3 GWas a form of renewable generation which used in the optimum way. installed, and was second only to gas power www.pessolar.com 13
  • 3. ROUNDTABLE “In rapidly developing countries like India, countries. Considering the move towards a non-nuclear policy that we are seeing, though, where 400 million people are without renewables are growing in popularity much more quickly than we would have expected ready access to electricity and where an only a couple of years ago. ambitious national solar roadmap is beginning to Andreas Weisheit: The solar industry is a billion dollar industry today and projected take hold, solar can make a huge difference in to become a 100 billion dollar industry very soon. It is a substantial contributor to the lifting them out of poverty and isolation” economy today and recognised as such. In order to be a viable source for energy in the long term, it needs to reach grid parity. New Bettina Weiss investments along the value chain that we see happening today will help to advance on the learning curve and bring costs down, and competition will drive down prices and make solar energy affordable. PES: How do you feel about large, plants which had 18 to 20 GW installations. With electricity not outrageously expensive conventional energy suppliers jumping on In Spain and Germany, average contribution and with many jobs in central and Southern the solar/PV ‘bandwagon’? Is it a cynical from PV to electricity generation is more US depending on oil and coal, legislators move or does it present an opportunity? than two per cent of the total on average per there are still very reluctant to make the shift year. from fossil fuels to renewables. In rapidly Paul Brody: A big opportunity. The jury is developing countries like India, though, out on whether the bulk of solar will come However in many cases today, PV remains where 400 million people are without ready from big providers operating industrial-scale more expensive than conventional electricity access to electricity and where an ambitious plants or a highly distributed model. This production methods. With the industry national solar roadmap is beginning to take move will offer opportunities for the utilities, progressing towards grid parity supported hold, solar can make a huge difference in as they will have to adapt their business by government incentives and schemes, lifting them out of poverty and isolation. models transforming into new generation competitiveness of PV with other energy utilities than can take up important tasks in sources will be achieved in around 5 years Isabel Boira-Segarra: This depends on the future electricity grids as aggregators, in several countries, according to EPIA which country you consider – in markets like facilitators and network service providers. (European Photovoltaic Industry Association). Germany PV is already widely recognised by Just as with hybrid or electric cars, the both consumers and legislators as providing The addition of conventional sellers will success of the Prius and the Tesla sports car a valuable contribution to the country’s add capacity, scale, and depth to the changed market perception and started a overall energy mix. industry and that can only be good. Not stampede towards these new products. only conventional energy suppliers, but The regulatory uncertainty created in Spain also some key oil and gas companies have The same can apply to solar now even more, where they retrospectively amended the already embarked on the PV opportunity. especially as some European countries have Feed-in Tariffs, destabilises the market and decided to exit their nuclear power strategy undermines the long-term certainty investors Additionally, Total recently announced or not to enter into it. Also the nuclear power require to support renewable projects. In it is acquiring a stake in SunPower future for Japan is under debate. All of this other markets like the UK a greater level of Corporation and Dow Chemical, a diversified will result in a stronger need for renewable convincing is needed due in no small part to petrochemicals company, has also ventured energies of which PV is going to be an scepticism around whether the UK climate is into solar energy as Dow Solar and recently essential element. really suitable for solar energy. confirmed the construction of its new manufacturing facility for producing solar Bettina Weiss: I believe the level of To counteract this issue the industry needs shingles. renewable energy adoption by consumers to educate consumers on the benefits of PV and the general public has a long way particularly when solar panels are integrated Many countries are now moving towards to go. Most consumers are not familiar within the built environment. This ability to decentralised electricity generation. The with purchasing energy, so it’s a learning generate energy on the point of demand decentralised model will however depend process. In Europe, public mindset can help consumers significantly reduce on the availability of various technologies was sensitised in the 1980s with fairly their energy bills and is a factor that helps to manage large penetrations of PV. sophisticated recycling programs in small to differentiate solar from other larger scale These may include batteries peak load communities. renewables such as marine energy. shaving (demand-side management), mixing and balancing different sources of I remember even back then separating John Meadows: Essentially, there has been renewable energy through enhancement glass, paper, even aluminum yogurt a consensus for some time that the future of of interconnections between countries and lids. This early awareness has certainly our energy supply lies in renewable energy local grid management through smarter contributed to the European embrace of sources. The only aspect that was and still grids. solar energy in particular, which culminated is being discussed today is how quickly the in one of the strongest and fastest shift over to renewable energy should take Bettina Weiss: No, I don’t think it’s a growing markets this industry has seen. place and how much this will cost. Today, cynical move – it’s a very necessary one to In other parts of the world, even in many renewable energy sources in general and stay relevant. I remember talking to a GE industrialised countries like the US, a lot of solar energy in particular already play an executive a number of years ago, who told work remains to be done. important role in the energy mix in many me back then that Shell was looking at “all14 PES: Europe
  • 4. ROUNDTABLErenewables across the board”. Fast forward a long-term payback. Project finance is there a concern – given the scope ofto PrimeStar Solar… Diversification is just a is now the most critical element of the variability in quality and efficiency in PVsmart thing to do. development process for PV systems. modules – over regulation and quality The banks providing this financing have standards and the reputation of theJohn Meadows: The more parties who get become more involved in system design industry?involved in solar PV the better. One should and vendor and product selection. In annot forget that large conventional energy Paul Brody: Depends on what you effort to manage risk, many banks haveproducers tend to operate centralised power consider as emerging suppliers. I believe now established approved vendor listsstations. It is actually decentralisation that we have a strong European basis of very (AVLs). They will demand a higher yieldmakes PV so wonderful. PV installations mature suppliers that are successful on a on loans for projects involving unprovenare usually built relatively close to where global basis. Quality and efficiency of PV vendors or unproven technologies.the power is consumed, this offers modules is mostly driven by the underlyingadvantages because it is consumed where Bruce Cross: The financial environment PV equipment technology and the effortit is generated, which in turn, means lower is generally unstable, and has huge of the manufacturers to further developtransmission and transformer related losses national variations around Europe. on this basis. Manufacturers in the mainand less dependence on imports. However there are intractable drivers geographies like Europe, Asia or Americas that encourage the implementation have access to the same PV equipmentFurthermore, this provides greater support of PV: the EU targets for renewable technology. So this is no differentiator.for the local economy, due to the fact that power generation, and carbon reductionvalue is created directly at the location e.g. What differentiates is each manufacturer’s commitments by national governments.work for skilled craftsmen, etc. Generally effort to push the borders of efficiencies Conversely, the mechanisms to achievespeaking, decentralised power operations and cost per Watt peak. And also here this are weak due to both constraintspromote diversity with respect to the Europe has a strong history with a close in the capital markets and uncertaintiesparticipants involved and a greater level of collaboration between industry, research about financial returns since they arecompetition over prices and innovations. institutes and academia. Considering the primarily government driven. typical cost disadvantage of EuropeanAndreas Weisheit: I don’t think it is a Isabel Boira-Segarra: Currently the PV manufactured products it is imperative forcynical move. Large energy companies are sector is dependent on subsidies so those players to differentiate through lowerdriven by economics and normally can’t unsurprisingly, in those markets where degradation or improved serviceabilityafford to make cynical decisions. They there are no subsides you tend to find low over their Asian competitors. Almost like aunderstand that solar has great support deployment of PV solutions. In the current premium brand strategy. So regulation andwithin the public and government spheres. environment there is widespread interest in quality standards can only help EuropeanThey can either accept to give up market solar but the difficult economic conditions players.share to new players, or to participate in mean that investors are reticent unlesssolar. That’s why we see more engagement. there are attractive Feed-in Tariffs in placePES: Given the current economic climate, and commitment from legislative bodieshow stable is the financial environment that these subsidies will not be subject to “Considering the movefor solar/PV development? change. towards a non-nuclearPaul Brody: Direct and indirect subsidies In markets like Spain and the Czechremain key incentives for solar sales around Republic, retrospective alterations to tariffs policy that we arethe world. Given budget pressures, those eroded investor confidence as they were nosubsidies are likely to come under increased longer guaranteed a secure return on their seeing, renewables arepressure in the coming years. Removingthem entirely could set the industry back investment. Significant progress has been made lowering the costs of PV and these growing in popularitysubstantially, so finding a way to graduallytransition away from big incentives or slow efforts need to continue in order for the industry to reach levels where initial capital much more quicklythe pay-out without reducing the consumer expenditure outlay decreases further and it than we would haveROI will be important. can eventually compete without subsidies.Solar can pay for itself even for consumer Andreas Weisheit: The global solar market expected only a coupleinstallations – but finding the right way is changing from developed markets that are of years ago”to market this to consumers will be a driven by subsidies and FiTs, to emergingchallenge. PV companies need to think markets that are driven by energy needs and John Meadowsabout the business model they have – grid parity. For these new markets financialmarketing, sales, and financing – to maintain support does not have priority anymore.the attractiveness of the investment. Recent Developed markets like Germany and Italy Bettina Weiss: Yes, there is certainlystudies showing that home values rise with will shrink in the coming years – down to concern with respect to module reliabilitythe installation of PV could be critical in a level that is accepted and supported by and quality as well as the associatedunlocking financing and consumer interest in the governments. In Germany for example warranty for solar systems. Consumerssome countries. the government targets three to four GW would benefit from a harmonised approach installations of solar modules per year. New to defining and implementing standardsSuccessful PV vendors will need to develop installations were 7.4 GW in 2010 and will that give them easy-to-understand ways ofsophisticated finance offerings to attract also exceed targets in 2011. So a reduction comparing solar systems, understandingindustrial customers wanting to avail is mandatory. the degradation of efficiency over time,themselves of the long-term economicbenefits of PV solar but who cannot free PES: With increasing numbers of amortisation and other aspects that will helpup large amounts of capital for such emerging manufacturers across Europe, them make informed decisions. We are part www.pessolar.com 15
  • 5. ROUNDTABLE “There might be a quality concern in the short starts to contribute to a significant share of total electricity generation. Fourth is term, but already today tier one manufacturers infrastructure of supporting industry such as project developers and installers. have more than 20GW installed capacity – PES: Over the next five years, what enough to cover the demand. Low quality increases in the efficiency of PV technologies can we realistically expect? standards will not be accepted by the market and Bruce Cross: PV has been developing by will disappear quickly” continuous improvements for decades. It seems likely that these incremental steps Andreas Weisheit will continue, giving one or two percentage points improvement. Large jumps in output only come with significant changes, and the long warranties given with PV modules restrict the pace of uptake of new materials of a dialogue among research institutes learn a lot from early adopters. In the case and processes. and industry that attempts to tackle these of PV technology, Germany for example, is questions and develop supporting standards one of the largest markets in Europe and Andreas Weisheit: Five years is difficult and guidelines that would drive adoption is particularly well placed to export their to foresee. I will try on a two-three year and at the same time avoid cheap, unreliable technical and commercial expertise to some horizon. Crystalline silicon should be able to modules flooding the market. Transparency of their neighbouring countries in Eastern reach more than 16 per cent efficiency for and consumer protection are key. Europe. multi-crystalline and ~18 per cent for mono- crystalline technology, on a module basis John Meadows: Quality is an extremely These new markets need to focus on and in mass production. That is 20 per cent important issue, PV systems must show developing a stable regulatory framework (relative) higher than today’s levels. Besides performance stability and longer service right from the very outset and establishing higher efficiency there will be very high focus lives, even under the most severe climatic a level of support that kick starts the on costs – in particular on polysilicon. conditions. Only then will it be possible to industry but avoids overheating the market generate high yields for long periods of time. thus providing an adequate climate for For Cadmium Telluride the dominant investment. As developers start to turn leader target 14 per cent efficiency in 2014. To us, the standards of the IEC are not strict Thin-film silicon is just below 10 per cent their attention East, investors will inevitably enough. So SCHOTT Solar has committed today and target >11 per cent with through follow so if these countries are to capitalise itself to developing appropriate standards improved light adsorption. Industry leader on this interest they will need to ensure that and helping the respective organisations Oerlikon have launched a product that offers they have the market conditions in place to develop tests. Something that can serve 10 per cent efficiency and 0.50 Eur/Wp cost to attract the upfront capital investment as a good example is the TÜV Rheinland’s today. CIGS is the wildcard - while it offers needed to get the solar industry up and the 2010 Energy Yield Test. Thanks to new efficiency beyond 15 per cent in the lab, running. software, a completely shadow free test roof companies have not been able to transfer and highly precise measuring equipment, John Meadows: They are certainly this into mass production until today. TÜV Rheinland was able to raise the test to benefiting from how prices have been an entirely new level. developing recently, also the German PES: Following the announcement of a Feed-in Tariff model provides an excellent joint EU-Japan project to develop high In this test, SCHOTT Solar AG was awarded example to follow. efficiency concentrator solar/PV cells, first place for its SCHOTT PERFORM do you expect to see more of these POLY 225 photovoltaic module that proved The German Renewable Energy Act “EEG” international collaborations? especially powerful in comparison to the 12 is widely recognised as being the most other modules from various manufacturers successful political tool for promoting Paul Brody: Developing superior PV which were also evaluated renewable energies. A report from the EU technologies and manufacturing facilities Commission confirms that the EEG is both that scale is a capital intensive business. Andreas Weisheit: There are more than the most effective and least expensive way For many companies, the only way to stay 300 manufacturers active in the area of of increasing the share of renewable energy competitive will be through collaboration. solar cells and solar modules globally, most in the total energy mix. Innovation these days is mostly coming from of them in China. As the industry matures, collaboration amongst various parties – the there will be a consolidation. Only the quality Andreas Weisheit: The key prerequisites days when innovation happened behind and cost leaders will survive. There might are, firstly, FiTs with clear regulations at locked doors are gone. For example we be a quality concern in the short term, what conditions solar electricity will be are working with Solar Frontier on joint PV but already today tier one manufacturers fed into the grid. Even at grid parity such research program. have more than 20GW installed capacity – regulations will be required – at wholesale enough to cover the demand. Low quality electricity prices. Second is a transparent So the industry is more and more getting standard will not be accepted by the market process for approving solar installations into this mode of working which is a very and will disappear quickly. to get access to the grid. Countries like good sign. In our semiconductor business Greece could not grow quickly even with at IBM, we have assembled a global alliance PES: As new Eastern European markets an FiT in place, as the process of approval of technology companies to jointly invest develop, can they learn from Western was complicated and lengthy. Third is a in and develop the latest generation of Europe to faster/better adopt solar/PV? grid that can absorb solar power readily. semiconductor systems. This method is Isabel Boira-Segarra: Like any other Not so much a concern in the early challenging to run, but it has allowed us to industry new players in the solar market can stages, but important when solar power stay at the forefront of the industry despite16 PES: Europe
  • 6. ROUNDTABLEthe fact that R&D costs and build costs for Defect monitoring with proactive alerts to the general public, still face the challengenew factories are running into the billions of field service technicians and automated of raising the initial capital that is requireddollars. spare parts delivery are available as a to buy and install a PV system. They technology in neighbouring markets may choose to opt for a ‘free electricity’We see a similar challenge in solar. The key but are not used today in PV. Or look at arrangement whereby they do not fundwill be the business model maturity of the highly granular weather forecast for cloud the equipment and in return they foregoplayers participating. It takes a sophisticated movements and so on – this is all available the revenue generated by the FiT. But toapproach to R&D, capital spending and as of today but at the end of the day it increase the uptake of PV at the privateintellectual property management to make needs a brave first-mover in the industry domestic level, it is necessary to effectglobal R&D and manufacturing alliances to adapt technologies like this. And while institutional change that extends beyondwork. scaling up such solutions they will become policymakers and encompasses banks andBettina Weiss: At SEMI, we are seeing it much cheaper and will certainly help to other financial institutions.already. We are supporting a SEMI Special elevate today’s PV business cases. If it was easier to access funding then theInterest Group – the Crystalline Silicon Isabel Boira-Segarra: Practices such as level of interest from this market segmentManufacturers Group or CTM – in their defect monitoring and viability studies play would grow, particularly if it was combinedefforts to develop a c-Si PV technology an increasingly important role especially with a well-thought out educationalroadmap. We are actively engaged with when it comes to increasing the certainty of programme demonstrating the benefits andthe newly formed, SEMATECH and performance from PV solutions on small- dispelling some of the fears associated withCNSE-led PV Manufacturing Consortium scale schemes where there may not be a this technology.in the U.S., and I wouldn’t be surprised dedicated resource to monitor performance.if Asian manufacturers saw the benefits In larger systems improving efficiencyof a collaborative effort very soon as and increasing productivity are critical inwell. There are clear advantages to be maximising returns.gained by finding areas that benefit fromcollaboration – manufacturing cost drivers, Big players are more attuned to this issue “Large jumps inprocess efficiency, silicon wafer parameters, and are leading the way in helping to demonstrate the return solar technology can output only come withmaterials requirements, etc. These effortsappear to be strongest when bringing deliver to the balance sheet. At a time when significant changes, PV solutions are increasingly competing withgovernment, industry and research to thetable around clearly defined goals. other sectors for limited levels of funding and the long warrantiesJohn Meadows: There are actually two this ability to demonstrate financial return will be increasingly important when it comes given with PV modulesways to make PV more competitive, firstlyreducing the manufacturing costs and to winning the hearts and minds of the investor community across the globe. restrict the pace ofsecondly increasing module efficiency. PES: After the FiT cuts in the UK for uptake of new materialsThis calls for intensive research efforts,there are already many initiatives at both medium/large installations, should there be greater incentives and initiatives and processes”the national and international level and we for the private installer to redress thecertainly hope this trend will continue. balance? Bruce CrossAndreas Weisheit: The solar industry is Bruce Cross: The UK FiT has sufferedalready a global industry today. Leaders like a loss of confidence by the investmentFirst Solar manufacture in the US, Germany community. The tariff for small domestic PES: Will Europe ever be able to matchand Malaysia and are extending their base. installations makes a good case as an the proposed massive-scale PV plants ofIn the future we will see more collaboration investment already – the difficulty is that the US and China?where R&D is undertaken in developed the public lack trust in the government not Paul Brody: Yes, it is possible. This iscountries, and directly transferred to plants to change their minds again. They feel that particularly true if we see the entry ofin China, Taiwan and Korea. there is a chance that their income stream major utilities into high volume, mega- will be retrospectively cut in some yearsPES: How are supplemental solar/PV scale projects. In fact, according to EPIA time, and their investment return mighttechnologies and practices helping in in 2010, Germany was leading in global PV be compromised. These reservations areeasing the concerns of investors in these space with 7.4GW installed and a national shared by the small business communitytough economic times? target of 51 GW by 2020. With lowest who might be investing in sub-50kW system prices and FiTs also amongst thePaul Brody: The important word here systems. A positive marketing campaign lowest (average of 0.26Eur/kWh produced),is “investors.” I believe everything that by the government might resolve these Germany continues to attract investors.improves the return on investment from concerns. In order to remain competitive, however,renewable energy sources is appreciated. Isabel Boira-Segarra: The UK government European companies need to build captiveToday most PV installations are pretty could argue that their recent decision to demand sales pipeline with the utility andsimple in nature. No adaptation to prioritise very small scale solar schemes by independent power producer firms.surrounding conditions is the current norm. redirecting the available funding away fromHowever, there are technologies in the The EPIA also indicates that at least 50- larger schemes is clear evidence of theirmaking or already out there, which help to 55 per cent of the total value of the PV commitment to small private installers.actively manage PV performance. I can refer system is created close to the end market,to the IBM 7HV technology which is a power Nevertheless, funding through the FiTs only of which 80 per cent was located in themanagement chip that helps to improve PV becomes available once solar panels are EU countries in 2010. At present, while aoutput by up to 15 per cent. operational. Small private installers such as large number (50 per cent) of c-Si type of www.pessolar.com 17
  • 7. ROUNDTABLE “Regulatory obstacles, small and large, make achieve this, the industry needs to build common campaigns with end-consumer a big impact. It can be as simple as getting organisations. By working with the customer, the joint voice will have greater municipalities to change rules on trimming trees credibility with political bodies. to facilitate sunlight on the roof” Andreas Weisheit: There remains work to be done to educate policy makers about the benefits and opportunities of solar. The Paul Brody solar industry will benefit from the resulting market growth, so it is its interest to invest in the education and influencing of policy makers. PES: There was a time when there was a green jobs shortage. Has the market now matured enough to address this? PV modules are assembled in China, most market, rather than firing it. There is a huge Paul Brody: Yes, we think so. The of the Thin-Film manufacturing plants are opportunity for solar in these territories. perception of green jobs has not only located in other parts of the world, leaders increased in the Industry but also in the PES: There have been efforts made being the EU, USA, Japan and Malaysia. population. Countries like Germany are one by associations and consortiums to of the leading examples. Another fact that will help to massive reduce the administrative barriers to scale up PV plants in Europe could be PV implementation. To what extent is it According to the German Association of the geographical advantages Southern the industry’s responsibility to influence Renewable Energies, they have today Europe is offering. Spain as one example policy making? about 220,000 employees in this sector has a vast amount of less-populated areas and are predicting a demand in 2020 of representing one of the most arid and sun- Paul Brody: Regulatory obstacles, small about 500,000 employees. According to rich areas in Europe. As grid technology and large, make a big impact. It can EPIA, on average, 30 full-time equivalent is improving and grid parity getting closer, be as simple as getting municipalities (FTE) jobs are created for each MW of solar this will give Europe all the chances to to change rules on trimming trees to power modules produced and installed. massive-scale up faster PV plants. facilitate sunlight on the roof. It can also The figure for employment takes into be as complex as managing inter-state account the whole PV value-chain including Isabel Boira-Segarra: The US and and country connections in the electrical research centres, installers, and producers China have a massive advantage over grid. Receptivity to helping PV systems of silicon, wafers, cells, modules and other Europe when it comes to building their get deployed is high in governments components. Over 3.5 million people could solar industry simply because on a around the world. If the industry be employed in the PV sector in 2030. purely physical level they have much invests in lobbying for administrative more land in which to build large- improvements, it will find supportive Obviously this is going to be a big scale plants. Solar panels are typically and helpful regulators. Streamlining opportunity for young people to embark in ground or roof mounted and are land administrative procedures and reducing this ‘green’ journey and to seek their chance intensive so countries like the UK are at the lead times will help keeping project in this type of emerging renewable energy a significant disadvantage compared to costs down and avoiding unnecessary markets. As markets are maturing this places like China or the US. Furthermore, high levels of FiTs. also represent an opportunity for industry the regulatory environment has a major solution and service providers like IBM. In influence on how quickly the solar industry Bettina Weiss: SEMI’s mission as a the end this is going to be a ‘war for talents’ can develop and history suggests that it global industry association is to remove where the most agile and most attractive are is easier to push these schemes through barriers, be they administrative, trade- going to take a higher share. in places like China where there is less related or around innovative technology development. Through our International John Meadows: The market has certainly protocol to follow and less attention paid Standards Program, for example, we have matured. Due to the fact that the solar to public reaction. In some European been able to provide the industries we industry hasn’t been around for that long, markets where there has been an appetite serve a platform to collectively address most of the jobs are still held by people who to increase the focus on PV, regulatory non- or pre-competitive challenges. This in come from other industries. challenges can act as an impediment to the progress of the industry. turn gives them the time to focus on true However as the market develops there is innovation and differentiation. However, an increased level of training and education Andreas Weisheit: US and China have we do think that the industry – the entire available to encourage graduates and higher energy demand and areas with supply chain ecosystem, actually – has the engineers to consider this sector for higher sun irradiation than Europe. Under biggest pull when it comes to implementing employment. In any case, cleantech is grid parity conditions we expect to see favorable legislation that bolsters renewable a fast growing sector, and we won’t be the largest PV power plants in these energy generation and deployment. Industry complaining about a shortage of green jobs countries. Another region of interest is the stakeholders are the ones who will create in the foreseeable future. Middle East. Whilst this is a location with new jobs and strengthen the standing abundance sunshine, grid parity is difficult Andreas Weisheit: There is currently a of a domestic market. That’s a language to achieve because electricity is subsidised shortage of solar specialists in areas of government officials understand. and very cheap. Governments recognise high growth like in China. It will take some that they can save and optimise resources Bruce Cross: It is certainly in the industry’s time till this is overcome. On the other when they sell their oil and gas at the interest to influence policy, but to best hand the current situation of oversupply18 PES: Europe
  • 8. ROUNDTABLEwill lead to consolidation and possibly to a renewables but this will need to be rampedmore balanced situation. When the industry up over the coming years to help service amatures and moves to growth rates of 20 per growing demandcent or below (from >100 per cent in 2010), John Meadows: We are quite confident thatthe infrastructure for education and training this is the case, nevertheless as I mentionedshould be able to match that growth. earlier, many of our highly skilled employeesPES: Do you feel there is enough support actually developed their skills in other fields,at the skills development and educational such as the semiconductor, chemical orlevel to equip the next generation with the automotive industry, for instance.tools they need to work in, and continue Today, we are receiving more and moreto develop, the PV industry? applications from highly motivatedPaul Brody: PV will provide for increased individuals who are driven to protect thenumber of jobs in the future, however this environment by working in the solar industry.will have to be supported by adequate skills Andreas Weisheit: As previouslyand appropriate education. Some of the mentioned, currently there is a shortagemost relevant qualifications across the PV of specialists and the market will continuevalue chain are: to grow at a much higher rate than• Solar module production: a background in other markets. Investments are made at chemistry, physics and specialisation in PV educational level, and the industry needs at the minimum to maintain that momentum.• PV system integration: technicians and engineers for mounting of systems along PES: With the visual impact and effect on with highly skilled staff for management, local environments still a barrier to the contracting, design and marketing implementation of large scale PV plants, is the future in smaller developments• Installation: certified installers; ideally serving localised communities? electricians, plumbers, roofers and other Bruce Cross: Micro-generation has construction workers will have to develop advantages in lower distribution specialised knowledge on PV installations requirements and the ability to utilise PES would like to thank all our roundtable• Recycling of PV modules: qualified existing infrastructure for mounting and contributors. For more information, and trained in chemistry, physics with connection, especially when built as part please visit their respective websites: understanding of recycling issues and of a new development where it is designed in at the start. Local community support is Bettina Weiss technology much greater as the project can be seen as Executive Director, PV Group, SEMI* R&D: experienced scientists and engineers being of direct benefit to those affected. www.semi.orgwith a high specialisation in PV Andreas Weisheit: There are two market Paul BrodyParticularly of importance will be early segments where solar can capture a Global Electronics Industry Leader,practical training in PV, project oriented significant share of the energy market in the IBM Global Business Serviceseducation, and external trainings in the future. One is large scale power plants in www.ibm.com/gbsindustry. sunny areas, where electricity then needs Isabel Boira-SegarraIsabel Boira-Segarra: If the industry does to be transported through the grid to the Sector Leader for Renewables, Europe,grow as expected there will be a need for area where it is needed. The other is local EC Harrisa greater number of qualified people who generation and use. This needs storage www.echarris.comcan install and maintain solar panels. There technologies however, which are costly to add to solar plants today. I see a larger Bruce Crossare already some existing professional potential to the large scale PV plants in the Managing Director, GB-Soltraining qualifications although as demand www.gb-sol.co.ukrises there will be room to complement future.these further. This gap can be filled from John Meadowsother areas within the construction industry Managing Director, SCHOTT Solar UKsuch as roofing, electrical or assembly www.schott.com/uk/english/work where the skills required are broadly Andreas Weisheittransferable. Global Flat Panel Display/Solar and AsiaHigher level skills are necessary in the Market Development, Linde Electronicsmanufacture of PV cells and panels and www.linde-gas.com/electronicsin the design of PV systems. The formercan to some extent be transferred fromthe electronic industry whereas the latterskills are more specific. In order to meet Opinion makers and idealists wanted!expected growth, there will be a need Would you like to sit on the next roundtable? We’re currently looking forfor a global workforce that is educated contributors and would welcome applications. Please contact the editor,on these specialist areas. In the UK and Simeon de la Torre, at sim@pes.eu.com for details.across Europe there are already severaluniversities who offer specific MA degrees in www.pessolar.com 19