PV grid development highlighted as biggest hurdle to implementation

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The project, a two and a half year long initiative, aimed at minimizing the legal administrative obstacles in the way of planning and installing photovoltaic systems in 12 key European countries, concludes that a number improvements have been observed, which allow for easier implementation. However, there are many countries, where the process of installing photovoltaics is overly protracted.

Specifically, grid connection difficulties are still the biggest hurdle the industry has to overcome in the installation of photovoltaic systems. Non-transparent, complicated and lengthy permitting procedures are also problematic, as are unclear interpretations of the rules, and excessive costs.

Call to action

To combat this, PV Legal is calling on European policymakers to highlight the importance of reducing these barriers, in order to achieve the EU’s 20 percent renewable energy sources (RES) goals by 2020.

It says that photovoltaics will play an important role in meeting the 20 percent target. In order to move the process along, it recommends: enforcing lean and appropriate permitting procedures; defining a one-stop-shop for all permitting procedures; and setting clear deadlines for permitting procedures.

Project coordinator, Jorg Mayer of BSW-Solar, the German Solar Industry Association, states, "European countries must set clear deadlines, and institute proportionate and transparent grid connection costs to avoid discriminatory situations."

Success and failure

PV Legal says that, in particular, improvements in residential system development have been made in France, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. "Online registration systems, less stringent permitting requirements, and one-stop shop systems have helped reduce the time required to process requests," it explains.

Despite this, it says that in many counties, including France, Greece, Poland and Italy, an "exaggerated quantity" of documentation must be submitted.

Meanwhile, Spain is an example of where hardly any progress has been made. According to PV Legal, "overly burdensome bureaucracy" means that it takes 89 weeks to realize a commercial rooftop project. Furthermore, the same administrative procedure is relevant for both small residential and large-scale ground mounted systems. At around four percent of a photovoltaic system’s cost, including modules, administrative fees are also described as "excessive".

The same is true in Bulgaria, where it can take between 40 and 60 weeks to obtain authorization for a rooftop project, regardless of its size. "Complying with these regulations and grid connection processes represents almost half the development cost of a project. The same is true… in the United Kingdom," it says.

The future of grid connection

While the PV Legal project will draw to a conclusion in February, a new project, PV Grid, will begin in May, aimed at investigating photovoltaic grid integration.

In its final report, PV Legal says that there is a need to revise the technical standards of grid connection for photovoltaics. "PV is a different technology whose requirements should be defined only by a careful examination and discussion of its specific characteristics." It says that the industry should be involved in this.

Other issues to be addressed include lengthy and complicated grid connection procedures, insufficient clarity and standardization of grid connection procedures, excessive grid connection costs, and a lack of guaranteed grid access for photovoltaic systems.