A number of leading international companies in the solar photovoltaic industry announced last week the formation of the Global Solar Council, a CEO-level industry body with the aim of expanding the growth of sustainable and cost-competitive solar energy.
The Council will engage with policy makers on the substantial successes already achieved by solar and the importance of a public policy environment that will allow the development of solar energy, bringing with it job creation and economic growth.
Founding members of the Global Solar Council come from all areas of the industry and include Applied Materials, Dow Corning, DuPont, First Solar, Lanco Solar, Phoenix Solar and Suntech. (Siemens was apparently reported by some sources as being a member but is actually still making up its mind).
Roland-Jan Meijer, Executive Director of the Council said, “The Global Solar Council is an important and timely industry initiative. It demonstrates a strong commitment by key players in the sector to work together to continue to make solar energy a global success.” The Council sees its role as complementary to trade associations and other stakeholders. Members will work in concert with organisations such as EPIA, APVIA, and SEIA to support their efforts on a global level.
It seems to be the global aspect that’s driving this initiative. The Council has also released a white paper that talks of the industry’s dependence on international trade for its continued success. But, according to the white paper, there is a growing threat from restrictive trade measures in some countries that hinder access to markets. The view is that for solar to reach its potential as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, and so provide the maximum economic and environmental benefit, global markets need to remain open.
Of course the significant players in the market do not want trade barriers because they will restrict their potential sales. On the other hand, the larger the accessible market the more cost-effective it will be for the suppliers, and hence, hopefully, cheaper for customers, which in turn means wider adoption and lower carbon emissions.
The question is, does having fewer, global players make the industry more sustainable - would local suppliers in local markets be better in the long term? This looks like a real trade-off between a low-carbon economy and a sustainable future. But since climate change is the more immediate threat, I guess the Global Solar Council has a point.