Author: Tom van der Linden, Solarplaza
The renewable energy industry is in a tough spot. On the one hand, the current crisis pushes our noses on the even-bigger-looming environmental crisis right ahead of us and shows how the path towards renewables is inevitable. Especially considering the dramatically low oil price, stranded fossil assets and ever-increasing cost-competitiveness of renewables. On the other hand, we’re seeing negative power prices; a stand-still of project financing; and a hard pause on the PPA market. How can we make sense of these developments?
Together, that’s how. By collecting the brightest minds and thought leaders on a virtual stage and facilitating the highest possible level of digital interaction from our audience of industry professionals, we will continue to build knowledge and networks in a time when it’s needed more than ever. Solar Pulse Europe will be an immersive, two-day virtual event experience that delivers Solarplaza’s event success formula to your desk chair. With our speakers and audience, we’ll measure the pulse of the industry and reaffirm solar as the beating heart of disruption.
The speaker lineup includes many of the industry’s most experienced and respected thought leaders. We quickly spoke to two of them - Gerard Reid (Alexa Capital) and Thierry Lepercq (Solaradvent) - to get a preview of their message about the current crisis and its impact on the industry.
“We will build the 21st-century power system around low-cost solar”
To Gerard, it’s clear that there’s no way back. “Honestly, I think we’ve reached an inflection point. And an inflection point really is a way from fossil fuels towards clean energy.” He is bullish on the prominent role that solar will claim, saying that “it’s very clear in my head that we will build the 21st-century power system around low-cost solar.”
Thierry agrees that there will be no return to the “normal” of the old energy status quo. “We are confronted with a sea change from an energy standpoint. Now the question is: ‘Will oil and gas companies again massively invest in oil two or three years from now, when demand picks up?’ The answer is: ‘No, they will not’. They will have to find something else, because finance - the funders, the investors - won’t let them. It’s as simple as that.” Being a prophet of the disruptive power of solar generation and hydrogen applications he concludes that: “What we can say with a lot of confidence is that the time of oil will be gone faster than most people thought.”
Thierry Lepercq (left) and Gerard Reid (right)
So what’s the mission for the solar industry? Thierry doesn’t beat around the bush: “It has to ramp up very quickly. What we have seen in Europe in the last three years is a ramp-up from 8GW of solar installations annually to 20+ GW. We need to go to 200GW annually very, very quickly. That’s what the European solar industry has to do. To multiply its capacity by 10 within 3 years. This is as fast as we need to go.”
“That’s what the European solar industry has to do. To multiply its capacity by 10 within 3 years.”
The long-term road seems clear. But how will we overcome the hurdles that have been thrown on the road during this crisis? Gerard acknowledges the problem, but doesn’t consider it a major threat: “One problem that we have, is that in renewable energy we’re seeing negative power prices across continental Europe. Now, that being said, I’m much more positive about renewables than I am about oil and gas. And the reason is: we’re going to electrify everything going forward. I mean, that’s one thing that you take out of this crisis. So, I think - long-term - the trend towards renewables is intact.”
Gerard and Thierry will be joined on the virtual stage by experts like Stefan Müller (Enerparc), Abid Kazim (NextEnergy Capital), Sam Wilkinson (IHS Markit), Claus Watterdrup (Vattenfall) and many others. These thought leaders will address major themes like ‘redefining the energy transition’; ‘financing in a post-COVID world’; and ‘rethinking solar business models’. Additionally, there will be sessions dedicated to some of Europe’s crucial solar markets, which will be led by representatives from their national solar associations.
As much as a generous dose of inspiration from these thought leaders will help to reinvigorate our industry peers, we want to make sure that we can also still deliver the same level of networking that we are used to facilitating at our physical events. To do that, we’ve partnered up with ‘Let’s Get Digital’ to build a custom virtual event platform that goes beyond your (by now) everyday mix of live streaming and on-demand video content. With chats, networking carousels, data-informed matchmaking, multi-person video calls, and other nifty features integrated into one comprehensive platform, we feel confident that we can deliver the same level of value that our network has gotten used to from over 15 years of leading solar industry events.