Greece gears up for net metering

Greek Deputy Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Asimakis Papageorgiou has revealed the new renewable energy systems bill currently under preparation will introduce net metering.

The country’s PV industry has expressed disappointment with what its sees as the bill’s limitations, however, and recommends a different approach.

Asked by a member of the Greek Parliament when Greece was going to introduce net metering, Papageorgiou confirmed that the ministry is gearing up to introduce net metering under its new legislation on renewable energy systems.

Papageorgiou said the bill, which is expected to go to parliament in August, would include a provision permitting households and businesses to install solar PV and small wind turbine systems to produce their own energy. These installations will be exempt from the suspension of new photovoltaic systems licenses and connection requests introduced in August 2012.

In cases where a local distribution grid does not have the capacity to absorb the solar power produced, net metering installations will still be permitted as long as the balance of the network is not threatened. However, Papageorgiou added that there would be no payments for any surplus energy injected into the network after offsetting the energy produced and consumed at the end of each metering period. Thus, electricity grids will absorb any surplus power produced, but will not be obliged to pay for it.

This appears to be the largest point of contention between the Environment Ministry and photovoltaic stakeholders. The Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO) has called for "any surplus energy generated during a metering period to be credited towards the next metering periods within a calendar year." HELAPCO said a maximum annual credit should be set per energy producer and only power exceeding this credit should be absorbed by the electricity grid for free.

HELAPCO has also asked for a reduction in connection costs according to the actual costs and to prices in other countries. HELAPCO said "the cost of connecting a Greek household solar PV system to the electricity grid is around €800 to €1,000 plus VAT." Corresponding costs in Germany and Cyprus, HELAPCO added, are around €150 and €250, respectively. Connection costs include the application fee, the cost of the meter and control checks of the installation.

Papageorgiou said the reason the Environment Ministry’s new bill would not allow payments for any surplus energy injected into the network at the end of each metering period was to avoid worsening the deficit of the Renewable Energy Sources fund, used to pay renewable energy producers in Greece.

According to data published in July by Greek electricity market operator LAGIE, the fund’s deficit reached €436.1 million by the end of May.

The Environment Ministry had initially published a consultation paper on net metering technologies for Greece in April. In May, the Ministry announced new feed-in tariffs (FITs) for photovoltaic systems, including drastic cuts in FITs for rooftop installations. Since then, the Greek photovoltaic industry has been expecting a new law permitting net metering installations, hoping that this would revive the domestic photovoltaic market, which has been hit hard by the Renewable Energy Sources fund’s huge deficit, lower tariffs and the Greek government’s mismanagement of the energy market.