Competitiveness of the EU Solar Industry
European solar PV manufacturing is a highly innovative and competitive European industry that must stay in Europe. Thanks to high levels of automation in the manufacturing process, production costs in Europe are competitive globally. The labour costs of some European manufacturers are below 10% of all costs of production. Production of PV solar in low-wage economies such as China is not an attractive alternative, as they will not normally be cheaper to produce. On the contrary, according to an analysis on the American market by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Chinese manufacturers have only a 1-2 percent cost advantage over American manufacturers. When shipping costs are added, Chinese manufacturers operate at a 5 percent cost disadvantage. Given the distances and complexity of transportation involved, we believe China operates at a similar cost disadvantage in Europe.
Research & Development for better efficiency and quality
Most solar technologies used worldwide originate from Europe. The leading research clusters are based in the European Union, and thanks to close cooperation with the solar PV industry over many years, European manufacturers are technologically ahead of the rest of the world. PV solar products need to have a lifespan of at least 25 years and keep producing electricity even in the harshest weather conditions, which is why quality is so important for PV solar products.
In many other industrial products, innovation involves new software, or adding new components manually. In the solar PV industry, the main challenge is to develop know-how on manufacturing techniques that would allow for the production of ever thinner wafers, reducing the amount of silicon required and increasing the level of conductivity. In Europe innovation advances thanks to high levels of automation which limits the risk of human error and product contamination with dust or other damaging particles. European manufacturers have developed expertise in applying the highest production standards over many years, which is why European production is so efficient and globally competitive.