Axios Pro Exclusive Content

The solar race is on with Europe

Illustration of a large hand placing a solar panel into desert sand

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Spanish utility Iberdrola submitted a proposal last week to build a 1.6 GW solar module plant in Spain, and it's seeking funding from the European Commission.

Why it matters: Europe is beefing up its domestic solar manufacturing capacity to wean itself off China.

What's happening: The European Commission has allocated about €3 billion for its latest Innovation Fund, which backs large-scale manufacturing.

  • Iberdrola is simply the latest to apply to the fund, which is already backing a 3 GW cell and module plant in Italy from Enel Green Power.

State of play: The Innovation Fund is one of several mechanisms that the EU is using to counter the Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden last year.

  • The EU is seeking to grow manufacturing to 30 GW across the solar supply chain as soon as 2025 — up from about 10 GW now, a fraction of demand.

Of note: That's roughly equal to the U.S., depending on how you measure the supply chain. The Biden administration is aiming for 50 GW of U.S. manufacturing capacity by 2030.

Context: Europe imports virtually all of its solar components from China, which has massive manufacturing capacity of about 300 GW.

  • Meyer Burger, Oxford PV, Voltec Solar, SoliTek, Solarwatt, and FuturaSun are among the companies that have made manufacturing announcements in Europe, per McKinsey.
Go deeper