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Europe Seeks to Bring Back Solar

Europe is seeking to make solar energy its primary source of electricity by 2030—while putting a stop to its “near-total reliance on China,” which controls the vast majority of the solar supply chain, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: Ending dependence on the world’s second biggest economy “has become urgent for the European Union as it seeks to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and fill the gap left by the divorce from Russian fossil fuels in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. EU countries are installing more solar panels than ever, most of them made in China.”

A challenge: But creating a robust solar-panel industry in Europe could prove difficult, according to some analysts and officials, as the continent will be competing against Chinese producers subsidized by Beijing.

Making moves: Italian energy company Enel SpA plans to increase the capacity of its solar-panel factory in Sicily to 15 times its current output by next year, the firm announced this month.

  • “That would make it Europe’s biggest solar-panel plant. Enel and other European companies say their more efficient and longer-lasting panels, and the appeal of a product made in Europe, will allow them to compete with Chinese companies.”
  • Enel is among the companies planning a manufacturing expansion in the U.S., where it says it will construct a 6-gigawatt-capable solar-panel and solar-cell factory. There are currently no solar-cell production facilities in the U.S.

What’s next: The EU, which is seeking to make renewables account for 45% of its energy production by 2030, is weighing the possibility of new subsidies to promote the building of solar-panel factories and to expand current plants.

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