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European Parliament approves law requiring solar installations on buildings

Alsace, France. Photo: Alexander Sorokopud/Dreamstime
Alsace, France. Photo: Alexander Sorokopud/Dreamstime

The European Parliament has adopted new regulations that will require the installation of solar panels on buildings across the region, among other decarbonisation measures.

Why it matters: Buildings are responsible for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions, per the European Commission.

Behind-the-meter solar installations help to reduce buildings’ power-related emissions, while also putting vacant rooftops and facades to use.

The latest: Where technically and economically feasible, EU member states will have to deploy solar systems on both new and existing public and commercial buildings and on all new residential buildings by 2030, according to the new EU Solar Standard.

Agricultural and heritage buildings can be granted exemptions, and EU countries can also decide to exclude historic buildings and places of worship, according to the regulations, which now need to be formally endorsed by the Council of Ministers.

“This law will help bring down energy bills and addresses the root causes of energy poverty, while delivering thousands of high-quality local jobs across the EU,” Ciarán Cuffe, an Irish politician and member of the European Parliament, said in a statement.

“The EU Solar Standard puts the power in citizens’ hands and will enshrine the energy transition into the places where we sleep, work, and live,” said Jan Osenberg, senior policy advisor at SolarPower Europe, an industry association.

“As the grid catches up to the energy transition, installing energy generation where we use energy will also help the grid, by keeping electricity local and empowering citizens with the information and technical ability to use electricity smartly.”

Osenberg said the regulations will require an update to construction practices and building requirements, adding that policymakers could draw upon the best practices established in nine European countries where similar measures have already been implemented, including France and Germany.

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