The creation of the European solar manufacturing Council (ESMC) : an interview with Andre Langwost
The actual crises of the Covid-19 has led to the resurgence of the need to produce locally, especially in the field of renewable energy. Indeed, China is the main manufacturer of photovoltaic panels in the world and Europe is almost completely reliant on those importations. Now, it is the right time for European countries to restart production in Europe and control their entire value chain. This is why, a new organization called European solar manufacturing Council (ESMC) has been launched in order to stimulate, help and support European companies. For this article I got the opportunity to ask Andre Langwost, the secretary general of the ESMC a few questions about this organization.
Andre Langwost is a French and German lawyer working for many years now in renewable energy and energy efficiency sector. Furthermore, he has been recently elected secretary general of the ESMC.
According to the website the “ESMC promotes solar manufacturing in Europe, the creation of a political environment to support industrial manufacturing and research, maintaining it at a top level globally”.
How the ESMC has been created?
The origins of the ESMC go back to 2013, when the project has been initiated in Fribourg. At the time, the French company Areva was supposed to invest in the project but then it was no longer available, so the project was shut down.
In 2017, a conference on the European sustainable energy was held with the attendance of Claude Turmes, a Luxembourg MEP from the Green Party (1998-2018) who was at the time the “Mr. Renewable energy” of the European Parliament. He said it was a shame that Europe was bowing down to China and that the Junker Commission should provide a budget for this.
A renewed hope has been found with the arrival of Emmanuel Macron in power and Nicolas Hulot in the government. Quickly, a meeting with experts in the field has been organized to relaunch the project. Moreover, at the time Solar world, a German company, was the last major manufacturer of photovoltaic panels in Europe. It went bankrupt twice. So, the idea was to take over what was left of Solar world and use it as a foundation. However, 120 million euros was needed. We did not find that money. Then, some initiatives have been undertaken.
At the moment, the organization has just started its activity, it is a small structure. Nevertheless, we are already influent in the sector. Right now it is not easy to move things forward, but it is still going. Recently some companies joined the initiative to put the photovoltaic file back on the politicians’ agendas.
“we need more cooperation and more stakeholders”
At the same time, Andre Langwost told me his view on how important the energy cooperation in Europe was.
Officially, the ESMC was created in February 2020. I was elected since I already had an experience in renewable energies at the time. I paid all my travels with my own money because for me this subject is extremely important. What we have to understand is that this is not just an industrial issue. We have to remember why the European Union was created.
After the war, we asked ourselves what we could do to establish the lasting peace. The idea was to ensure that there were more economic interconnections and, since we had common interests in neighbouring countries, we would have much less interests in shooting at each other. That is why the steel, coal and nuclear cooperation has been set up.
As a solution after this crisis, we need to find more European cooperation, because France without Europe is nothing. We must also integrate other countries like Spain and Italy, who have problems with employment. We must support each other. Therefore, it is also a social issue which is in everyone’s interest, because if Spain and Italy fall economically, great nations such as France and Germany will fall as well.
And above all, there is a climate emergency, so we don’t have much time left to change things. Most of the time we only focus on the production and the electricity, but we also need to take into account the transport, heating and interconnectivity, which are extremely important.
In a recent interview for the « Renouvelle » Andre Langwost said “What we are missing at the moment are entrepreneurs who have the audacity to take the plunge. But wherever they start, photovoltaic manufacturing plants will be created.”
To find more about the missions of the ESMC you can check their website: http://europeansolar.org/
The interview translated from french