SunPower's Schäfer new EPIA head

Oliver Schäfer, director for market development and policy at SunPower, the California-based PV manufacturer that is majority owned by France’s Total, has been named the new president of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

Schäfer will take the reins from Winfried Hoffmann, a member of the supervisory board at Germany's SMA Solar, who was elected president two years ago.

Brussels-based EPIA, the EU’s pre-eminent PV lobbying group, also announced that Reinhold Buttgereit will step down as secretary-general from the end of this month, and it did not immediately name a replacement. Buttgereit has held his position since May 2011.

Last week it emerged that the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) – the umbrella lobbying group for various EU renewables associations, including EPIA – has entered liquidation after being unable to pay the rent on its premises in Brussels, the Renewable Energy House, where EPIA is also based.

In addition to its new president, EPIA named three vice presidents and four directors to round out its eight-person board for the three-year period ahead.

The trio of vice presidents comprises Enel Green Power’s Riccardo Amoroso, Phoenix Solar’s Murray Cameron, and Trina Solar’s Jodie Roussell – the latter two of which already serve on EPIA’s board.

EPIA’s four directors will include Solarcentury’s Seb Berry, Wacker Chemie’s Christian Westermeier, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions’ Conrad Burke, and Total’s Arnaud Chaperon.

Milan Nitzschke of SolarWorld – previously an EPIA director, and among the most vocal critics of the EU’s solar trade resolution with China – will no longer sit on EPIA’s board.

Despite the additional certainty that resulted from the resolution to the EU-China solar spat, it remains a challenging time for Europe’s PV sector, which added just 10GW of capacity last year – compared to 22.4GW in 2011.