European Parliament approves legal requirement to install solar energy in buildings


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have adopted the EU Solar Standard, which will require the installation of solar energy on buildings in all EU member states.

The standard is part of the European Building Performance Directive, which was provisionally agreed in December. The directive was formally approved by MEPs on Monday (11/03), with 370 votes in favour, 199 plus 46 abstentions, and will now have to be formally approved by the Council of Ministers to become law.

The legislation says that, if they are technically and economically suitable, EU member states will have to progressively deploy solar installations on public and non-residential buildings, depending on their size.

It sets out a timetable for the integration of solar installations in construction works for new commercial and public buildings by 2026, in commercial and public buildings undergoing relevant renovations by 2027, in new residential buildings by 2029 and in existing public buildings by 2030.

Agricultural and historic buildings can be excluded, while EU member states can decide to exclude buildings for their special architectural or historical merit, temporary buildings and churches and places of worship.

The directive aims to help reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the EU construction sector as it works towards climate neutrality by 2050. According to the European Commission, buildings in the EU are responsible for 40 per cent of the region's energy consumption and 36 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions.

"As the grid adapts to the energy transition, installing power generation where we use it will also help the grid by keeping electricity local and empowering citizens with the information and technical capacity to use electricity intelligently," said SolarPower Europe's Senior Policy Advisor Jan Osenberg. "They can see when they are generating more electricity and adjust their consumption accordingly."

Osenberg added that the law must be translated into reality with "effective integration into building practices and construction requirements". He said that exemptions, support measures and system design criteria will have to be defined.

European countries including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany already have similar measures in place, which Osenberg says ministers and stakeholders can use to take advantage of best practice.

A report by SolarPower Europe, published at the end of last year, estimated the European Union's total installed solar capacity at 263 GW, after 56 GW of solar had been deployed by 2023, a 27 per cent increase on the previous year.

From pv magazine