Solar PV Could Be Standard in New European Buildings by 2020

The European Union Energy Council this week reached an agreement on the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Under the agreement any new European building will have to be close to energy neutral by 2020, meaning that a very large share of energy consumption in new buildings will be provided by renewable energy.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as well as solar thermal technologies are among the best suited to be integrated in buildings. However no target has been set for existing buildings which currently represent about 99% of the building stock.

The hope is that the EPBD will ensure a strong boost for on-site renewable energy sources (RES) like PV, which as a decentralized and sustainable energy technology is easy and quick to install in housing and has the ability to provide a significant share of the household and commercial energy demand. In the original draft of the EPBD, there was a cap on building size of 1000m². This has now been removed, which means that large, building integrated renewable energy projects may now be developed.

The new directive says, “the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should to a very significant extent be covered by energy coming from renewable sources, including renewable energy produced on-site or nearby.”

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) welcomed the news this week and offered recommends to individual EU nations on implementing the directive. They said that when transposing the directive in the national law, EU member states should focus on developing the potential of on-site renewable energy solutions rather than choosing to buy power from existing or planned central station renewable energy projects. The EPIA said that this would help to turn energy consuming buildings into more energy independent entities and possibly even autonomous or positive energy buildings.

“If well implemented by the 27 EU countries, this new piece of legislation will be essential to meet the target set by EPIA to reach 12% of Europe’s electricity demand by 2020 with photovoltaic energy,” said Eleni Despotou, EPIA Policy Director.

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