Solar panels could soon be mandatory on all new buildings in the European Union under a new proposal aimed at rapidly replacing its reliance on Russian oil and gas supplies with renewable energy.
solar power schemes now offer the cheapest electricity in history and predicted that by 2050, solar power production will skyrocket and become the world’s primary source of electricity
“There is a double urgency to transform Europe’s energy system: ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which is being used as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers nearly €100 billion per year, and tackling the climate crisis,” the European Commission said in a statement last month.
Currently, 40% of the EU’s gas is imported from Russia at a cost of over USD$110 million a day. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission is turbocharging its original green energy transition with the aim of producing nearly half of the bloc’s energy from renewables by 2030 – doubling the current amount.
To achieve this, the Commission’s REPowerEU plan and the “solar rooftop initiative” is introducing a phased-in legal obligation to install solar panels on new public and commercial buildings, as well as new residential buildings by 2029. The goal is to bring online over 320 GW of solar photovoltaic energy by 2025 (more than double from 2020) and almost 600 GW by 2030.
If successful, solar energy will become the largest electricity source in the EU by 2030, with more than half of the share coming from rooftops.
“We can also lead by example,” said European Green Deal head Frans Timmermans.“Let us show as a commission how quickly we can put solar panels on our buildings.
The energy plan is also proposing to double the rate of deployment of heat pumps, produce 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen by 2030, and double wind capacity. The latter of which recently saw four North Sea countries – Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark – commit to a joint project to increase offshore wind capacity by tenfold to help supply energy and green hydrogen in the region.
The total cost of achieving this would reach hundreds of billions, requiring an investment of €210bn between now and 2027 from the private and public sectors across Europe. But the proposed funds have been described as a “down payment” on the bloc’s future independence and energy security and will save the EU €84bn a year by cutting Russian imported fuel.
Aside from these targets, the EU hopes the plan will help reduce energy prices over time. In its World Energy Outlook 2020 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirmed that solar power schemes now offer the cheapest electricity in history and predicted that by 2050, solar power production will skyrocket and become the world’s primary source of electricity.