Exclusive: Enel acquires more than 100 MW in Greece

Rome-based Enel has recently bought 26 Greek licenses to develop new solar parks in the country, pv magazine has learned.

Specifically, Enel bought 17 licenses amounting to 73.46 MW from Enexon Hellas, seven licenses for 25.57 MW from Kalenta and two licenses for 3.54 MW from Solar Thessalias.

Enel Green Power and Mismats Holdings Ltd. respectively hold 88.81% and 11.19% of Enexon Hellas’ 17 licenses. Enel Green Power and Sharp similarly own 100% of Kalenta’s seven licences while Enel Green Power fully owns Solar Thessalias’ two licenses.

RAE, Greece’s regulatory authority for energy, approved the purchase deals in May. RAE told pv magazine that it took into consideration Enel’s submission of strong evidence that the company had secured, or is able to secure, adequate financing for the timely and reliable development of the projects.

Enel did not respond to pv magazine‘s request for further information regarding the projects.

Enel’s recent purchase of Greek solar PV licenses was not included in the company’s 2013 to 2017 business plan published in April. That plan only included the installation by 2017 of 55 MW and 21 MW of new photovoltaic capacity in Romania and Italy, respectively.

However, the move is not out of the ordinary for Enel. In January, the company brought 19 new photovoltaic plants with a total installed capacity of around 42 MW online in Greece. The projects were included in Enel’s 2012-2016 business plan. Yet that January the company also connected to the Greek grid a further 15 MW of solar PV operated by ESSE, a 50/50 joint venture between Enel Green Power and Sharp that aims to develop photovoltaic power in the Mediterranean region. ESSE’s portfolio was not included in Enel’s business plan. Since Enel bought most of the new Greek PV licenses via joint ventures, it did not need to include the anticipated Greek projects in its 2013-2017 business plan.

Nevertheless, Enel’s recent move illustrates that despite the financial troubles PV developers are facing in Greece, foreign investors are still eyeing the Greek PV market.

Enel’s acquisition of so many Greek PV licenses comes at a time characterized by the introduction of harsh measures, such as drastic FIT cuts, imposition of a special PV levy and the suspension of new solar PV applications. Last week, the Greek parliament voted through a new RES bill aimed at power load management that will result in additional fees for RES producers. Under these circumstances, Greek PV producers are struggling to survive.

Industry sources that spoke with pv magazine are convinced that big companies that are able to secure project financing (mainly from foreign institutions) with low interest rates can still achieve long term profits in Greece’s PV market.

While has Enel remained tight-lipped about its Greece deals, Camillo Catarci, Enel’s international press officer, told pv magazine that as of last summer "Enel Green Power in Greece has 289 MW installed capacity of which 71 MW are solar, 199 MW wind and 19 MW hydro."