Bulgaria: Up to 39% retroactive grid fee for PV operators

19. September 2012 | Top News, Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By:  Becky Beetz

The Bulgarian state regulator has introduced a retroactive renewable energy grid fee. Under the new rules, photovoltaic operators will have to pay back up to 39% of their feed-in tariffs (FITs). While the fee is supposed to be temporary, no deadline has been provided.

Bulgaria 1.2 MW solar photovoltaic project

Bulgaria's retroactive grid tax has hit photovoltaic operators the hardest.

The Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) told pv magazine the retroactive fee was introduced following an application sent to the Bulgarian State Commission on Energy and Water Regulation last week by the country’s grid operators, EVN, Energo Pro and CEZ. In the application, they said they wanted to charge renewable energy operators for grid access, since bigger costs are involved in the management of the grid.

Without argument, or proof of the extra costs from the grid operators, the state regulator accepted the application and devised the new grid fee, said the BPVA spokesperson. The fee is supposed to be temporary, however a deadline has not been set, they added. The decision entered officially into force yesterday, September 18, "after which date the producers will have to pay the prices monthly".

The fee to be paid depends on the FIT a renewable energy operator was granted. For wind, continued the spokesperson, a 10% fee has been applied, and for hydropower, a 5% fee. Most heavily hit have been photovoltaic operators which, for existing systems, will have to pay anything between 1 and 39% back.

As such, a system up to 5 kWp, grid connected in 2010 and granted a tariff of BGN 792.89/MWh (around €405; US$528), will have to pay 20% of their tariff in grid fees back. Meanwhile, a 10 MW plant that was grid connected between this January and June, and which received a tariff of BGN 485.60/MWh, will have to pay 39% back. After September 1, a fee of just 1% applies. A full list of the tariffs and fees to be paid has been released by the BPVA.

Naturally, the industry has reacted angrily to the news, and the spokesperson says an appeal will be lodged in both Bulgaria and at a European level.

On July 1, it was reported that Bulgaria had introduced FIT cuts of up to 50% for photovoltaics. At the time, it was said many photovoltaic projects have been placed in jeopardy. The country’s energy regulator also indicated that Bulgaria is already meeting 12% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources. It is said to be targeting 16% of renewables by 2020.

Project activity

A surge of renewable energy project activity is said to have taken place in Bulgaria following the announcement of the country’s generous FITs. For exmaple, Astronergy announced it had completed a 50 MW plant in June after 3 months of construction. Q.Cells also stepped up its activity levels in the country, having secured an order to deliver 16 MW worth of its photovoltaic modules to projects there.

Meanwhile, Premier Power unveiled its 16.2 MW Bulgarian project plans at the start of March, and Phoenix Solar said last October that it had been given the go ahead to install a 50 MW plant in the Kazaniak region.


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