IN THE NEWS Q3 2023:

Dear Reader,

I am pleased to greet you after the summer break and invite you to read the newest EPMF newsletter!

Before diving into EU policies and how they shape the EU industry, let me share a personal experience. Recently, we wanted to install solar panels on the roof of our building. The panels could then supply electricity to all the common areas: lights, lifts etc. After several meetings and discussions with the co-owners, we finally agreed on the project and ordered the panels. By doing this, we thought we’d succeeded in the most difficult part of the project, but not at all. The main challenge was right in front of us… finding a supplier of solar panels that could get them without a delay of one or two years! I was really puzzled: everywhere we hear that we need to go green and use renewable energy… but what about the supply? Why are there so many delays and shortages? The answer, it turns out, is that we depend on non-EU countries. The net-zero industry must return to Europe… and now!

As you can see, this newsletter will focus on the Net-Zero Industry Act! As usual, the EPMF has requested the thoughts from a Member of the European Parliament. This time, it is MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne and an industry opinion from our friends at SolarPower Europe. Enjoy reading this edition, and don’t forget to look out for the new precious metals fact!

France Capon, Secretary-General, European Precious Metals Federation

Net-Zero Industry Act: what about chemicals management?


Two sections of proposals were presented on March 16, 2022: the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) and the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA). CRMA was greeted with the fullest initial attention. Now, let’s dedicate some time to NZIA. As you may know, precious metals are widely used in green technologies and are vital for manufacturing and storage: silver is used for solar photovoltaics, onshore and offshore wind and renewable technologies, and iridium and platinum for hydrogen technologies. NZIA aims to strengthen the European manufacturing capacity of net-zero technologies and show Europe’s commitment to play a leading role in the net-zero technology transition by helping to deliver on the Fit-for-55 and REPowerEU objectives. This sounds promising, however, there is always a “but”. In recent years, the EU solar industry has experienced a rapid decline and a dramatic increase in third country raw material dependency. This is just one example and, sadly, in the EU we have other situations just like this one. The EU initiatives should support European reindustrialization. This is not always an easy task, especially seeing the lack of the coherence in EU polices. NZIA and CRMA have no links to the EU chemicals policies. It is also worth mentioning that currently, the EU's chemicals legislation is removing certainty for net-zero projects and transitions to greener EU. All net-zero technologies, be it solar cells, wind turbines or hydrogen fuel cells, all contain metals with a defined hazard. Other metals are undergoing a long classification process. Are you aware that this process takes 5-10 years to be completed? NZIA needs speed, transparency, and predictability. It is time for adequate chemicals management that works hand in hand with NZIA without hampering each other. The European net-zero industry needs more certainty and predictability for business projects. Without a fast and timely implementation process, there is a high risk of delays in net-zero transitions in the EU.  

Guest corner: Net-Zero Industry Act, by MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (Renew Europe, France)

In August 2022, the United States implemented the Inflation Reduction Act, a legislation aimed at expediting the decarbonization of its industrial sector. The act included several protectionist provisions and received support from a budget of $370 billion. It served as a true wake-up call for the European Commission. 
Following the European Green deal, it presented the Net Zero Industry Act in March 2023, as a response to the IRA.  We welcomed this initiative, but we are forced to see the Commission’s proposal is not as ambitious as those of its competitors. It’s lacking funding, it is lacking depth and is not functional for companies. 
As a Rapporteur of the opinion of the EMPL Committee, I can reassure you: all committees are now working hard at the European Parliament to improve the text and deliver for our SMES and our citizens. The stakes are high. The future of our strategic autonomy depends on it. 
In the past, imbalances have already resulted in the decline of the European solar industry and our excessive reliance on imported semiconductors. The series of shocks: Covid-19, Russian aggression, green transition, have made us aware that we should now anticipate potential crisis that could shake our industries. It is now time to react: ambitious funding through the new MFF and STEP, fostering our competitiveness in the green and digital transition. We have the means and the political will to tackle the upcoming challenges.

Industry views: SolarPower Europe shines a light on NZIA

By Dries Acke, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe 

SolarPower Europe strongly believes that effective industry policy requires focus, beginning with identifying the technologies most vulnerable and reliant on external suppliers. The Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) defines "overdependency" as exceeding 65% reliance on a single supplier, and solar currently exceeds this threshold. Consequently, the solar sector urgently requires attention and financial support to reinforce its resilience.
Europe must capitalize on the surging demand for solar energy and regain its position as a solar manufacturing hub. Given recent geopolitical challenges, Europe cannot ignore this opportunity. To avoid past mistakes, Europe must focus on building resilience, diversifying supply chains, and reducing risks. The European Solar PV Industry Alliance and the NZIA proposal aim to foster at least 30GW of solar manufacturing by 2030, aligning with this strategic requirement.
Our proposal entails the creation of a Solar Manufacturing Bank, merging the most cost-effective European solar manufacturing projects with solar developers willing to invest, fortified by state-backed Contracts for Difference. This approach should encompass the entire supply chain, including raw and processed materials. In the case of solar energy, strategic materials like polysilicon, aluminium, and silver should be included in EU legislation, potentially under the Critical Raw Materials (CRM) framework or within NZIA guidelines.
Europe boasts the necessary elements to establish a robust solar manufacturing foundation: knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, financial resources, skilled labour, and supply chain. The missing puzzle piece is scale, which we must actively pursue to secure our energy future.

#PMFacts: silver’s cameo role in ‘Oppenheimer’ movie 

If you saw the movie ‘Oppenheimer’ you were probably impressed with the special effects, partially thanks to silver. The film’s cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema struggled to find a way to avoid computer-enhanced effects, and rather to achieve them in-camera, including the climactic Trinity Test bomb explosion. After a series of experiments, the cinematographer and his crew found a solution. “We created science experiments. We built an aquarium and dropped silver particles in it. We had molded metallic balloons which were lit up from the inside. We had things slamming and smashing into one another such as ping-pong balls, or just had objects spinning.” The silver particles bouncing around the aquarium along with other debris gave the scene the perfect illusion of what the Trinity Test explosion really looked like from a close-up perspective.

Invitation: Event ‘REACH and Raw Materials: Achieving Europe’s Green Deal goals together’ on October 17 in Brussels

The EPMF and Eurometaux invite you to join our event on REACH revision. Together with the panellists from European Commission, industry and civil society will discuss:
–  how can the revised REACH regulation provide more certainty and environmental protection together for Europe’s raw materials investment agenda?
–  where should practical actions be taken to improve coherence between the EU’s chemicals and raw materials policy actions?
–  where will Europe’s clean energy supply chains now need to act to demonstrate and improve their control of risks across the lifecycle?
The event will be followed by a light lunch and networking. Please register here and we look forward to seeing you there!

The EPMF annual report 2022

You can read what kept us busy in 2022 and what is next for the precious metals industry on the EPMF here. Besides, the EPMF never forgets fun part - you will find interesting facts about each of the precious metal and a quiz!

European Precious Metals Federation a.i.s.b.l.
Avenue de Tervueren 168/6,
B-1150 Brussels

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