Date: 8 December 2023
This year is the second edition of the Sustainable Solar Power conference. It was opened by several keynote interventions including from Walburga Hemetsberger from Solar Power Europe and European Commission Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius. Iva was part of a panel discussion on Sustainability of PV components, alongside other suppliers to the solar industry and European Commission officials.
The debate revolved around the re-establishment of a solar component industry and value chain in Europe to achieve greater sustainability: minimised embedded CO2, more circularity and recycling, etc. In the case of solar glass, Iva reminded participants that most of the solar glass reaching its end-of-life nowadays is originally coming from China and includes antimony content, which complicates recycling. More European production of antimony-free solar glass and traceability would greatly help in boosting sustainability in the PV industry, as stressed in a recent paper from the European Solar Industry Alliance, ESIA. Eco-design requirements on this item could be helpful according to Glass for Europe and should be envisaged by EU authorities.
In the discussion, Iva also stressed that more local solar glass production in Europe would require a set of enabling conditions, starting with a stronger PV manufacturing industry in Europe. The glass industry needs local clients to run manufacturing facilities. A competitive environment and a level playing field are also required to compete with imported, sometimes dumped, solar glass products. We must ensure that the premium of sustainable local components is absorbed by the PV industry. The Nearly Zero industry Act needs to be adopted and beefed up to support these goals.