European solar boss calls for flexible energy trading

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Solar is the energy technology that will power Europe now and in the future, says the SolarPower Europe (formerly the European Photovoltaic Industry Association)

A smart and cost-effective energy market in Europe will be based on large contributions of variable electricity from solar and wind energy and a high degree of flexibility to make optimal use of energy when it is cheaply available.

This is according to Dr James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe (formerly the European Photovoltaic Industry Association) during an interview with Engerati ahead of European energy trading event EMART Energy next month.

Mr Watson suggested that utilities should be at the helm of changes in the market and pin pointed Germany’s energy policy – ‘Energiewende’ – as a model that can be followed to achieve 100% renewable energy.

He said phasing out nuclear power projects as in the case of Germany would boosts investments in low carbon technologies.

However, Watson points out that today, the current oversupply of old base load power generation in Europe is leading to both inflexibility and a dilution of energy trading market price signals.

He said: “The European Emissions Trading Scheme is currently insufficient to provide a price signal for the most polluting power plants to retire and make space for important new investments in the market.”

He adds that the signals of the wholesale energy trading markets will have to properly reward that flexibility, in particular by reflecting scarcity in the system.

Watson adds that the support of European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET) for developing clear wholesale price signals reflecting the growth of renewables is very important for traders.

EPIA in solar energy development

Watson said industry association SolarPower Europe has seen a 53% increase in membership this year including large industry players, national solar associations, through to start-ups and SMEs.

He said the growth is as a result of the revamping of the organisation, a strong focus on relevant business activities such as the development of the framework and market conditions for solar in Europe, developing best practice guidelines in areas such as tendering and operations and maintenance and actively communicating opportunities in European markets today, reported Engerati.

Watson concluded by saying the growth of SolarPower Europe is not linked to only one market but to the overall growth in interest and understanding from many sectors such as retail (e.g. IKEA), digital (e.g. Google), and electric vehicles (e.g. Tesla).

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.