EDITORIAL - EPIA and Solar Financing: A New Frontier

EPIA is always looking to drive forward the agenda of the issues that impact the solar sector the most. As many of you will be aware, in Europe in 2014 we had around 7GW of installed solar capacity, a decrease from previous year’s rate of installation, at a time when we could expect more growth in our sector. There are many causes for this, but we believe that significant contributory factors are the phasing out of incentive schemes, such as feed-in-tariifs, and retroactive measures that have potentially dis-incentivised investments in solar power across European countries. So with declining public sector financing and challenging regulations in some countries impacting investment, it is clear that the next challenge that our sector needs to overcome is the question of financing for solar power in Europe.

Firstly some good news. EPIA has worked ceaselessly to deliver support from European institutions, notably the European Commission, against retroactive measures. A recent initiative launched by the Directorate-General for financial stability, financial services and capital markets (DG FISMA) is examining the impact of national measures on investment in Europe. This is a clear opportunity for solar companies to explain to the Commission exactly what the impact of retroactive measures are on investment. EPIA is leading a member lead response to this initiative.

This year also sees EPIA expanding its research and analysis services into examining the topic of development of financing for solar power. EPIA is now engaged in three projects under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and development funding stream that aim to contribute to addressing the finance challenge. EPIA and its partners will work on a PV Financing project, a Solar Bankability project and a CrowdFundRES project.

The PV Financing project examines ways of bringing innovative business models forward and the issue of access to financing. These new models will then be used in our sector to implement projects, while using the new approaches for equity and debt financing schemes. Importantly the successful models will be promoted with banks, financiers and policymakers. This aims to ensure that the right frameworks are created and that any barriers are addressed.

The Solar Bankability project aims to increase trust in solar projects amongst investors, financiers and insurance companies. The project will create best practice for risk assessment based on technical and financial due diligence. EPIA will be at the forefront of disseminating these best practices and ensuring that the new processes are adopted across Europe.

Finally the CrowdfundRES project will explore the way crowdfunding can be used for developing renewable energy projects. EPIA will work to ensure cooperation between solar project developers and crowdfunding platforms.

It is working on projects such as these that allows EPIA to provide solutions to challenges that we face in our sector, such as financing. We are very excited that we will help to shape the framework for solar project financing for many years to come.