The EU must “decentralize” its supply in renewable energy, wind and solar, currently too dependent on China, said Tuesday to AFP Francesco La Camera, head of the International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA).
“It is important to work on decentralizing the supply chain,” he said, on the sidelines of an intergovernmental forum in Berlin, dedicated to the development of offshore wind in the Baltic Sea. “We need to collaborate more with Africa, South America or Southeast Asia,” to produce the infrastructure needed for the energy transition, added La Camera.
The EU is particularly dependent on China for minerals and components for solar panels and wind turbines as part of its energy transition. The 27 countries buy 98% of their rare metals from China, which are essential for many green technologies. Beijing also holds 60% of the world’s battery, wind and solar panel production capacity.
The coronavirus pandemic and the geopolitical tensions between the West and Beijing over Taiwan have particularly highlighted this dependence, with the appearance of bottlenecks. “In our opinion, this situation is worrying,” said La Camera, who therefore calls for “developing interconnections on minerals, on green industries with developing countries.” “This is what will allow Europeans to reach their objectives” in terms of carbon neutrality, he added.
EU member states recently agreed to double the share of renewables in energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030, including by speeding up infrastructure approval procedures. But to achieve this goal, the European industry must manufacture the equivalent of 20 GW of offshore wind turbines per year within five years, compared to the current capacity of around 7, at the risk of saturated factories and bottlenecks.
In mid-March, the European Commission presented a plan to simplify regulations on subsidies, aimed at relocating production and meeting 40% of its needs with its own plants by 2030.