Romania adds 850 MW in past eight months despite incentive cuts

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The cumulative solar PV capacity in Romania reached 1,054.621 MW at the beginning of March, according to Transelectrica, Romania’s transmission company and electricity system operator.

Of these, 834 MW of new photovoltaic capacity were installed in 2013, namely 175.5 MW in the first six months and 658.5 MW in the second half of the year, Transelectrica told pv magazine.

An additional 192.621 MW of solar PV capacity were installed in January and February this year, Transelectrica said.

The dramatic growth is seen as a huge success for solar energy in Romania given that PV capacity at the end of 2012 was only 28 MW in the country.

In July, Transelectrica CEO Stefan-Doru Bucataru told pv magazine there were a further 4.6 GW of solar PV projects with either a technical connection or connection contracts and that according to investor data provided to the electricity operator in 2013, about 2.7 GW would begin operation.

However, many in the country’s PV sector have been worried since the Romanian government decided to halve solar PV certificates down to three per megawatt, from six last year, for all photovoltaic projects finished after Jan. 1, 2014.

The measure only affects projects finished after January 2014, although older projects also faced subsidy cuts after a green certificate suspension was approved in June 2013 suspending two out of six green certificates awarded to PV energy producers per megawatt hour fed into the grid. The green certificate suspension began July 1, 2013.

In legislating these cuts, the Romanian government has argued that its main aim is to restrain electricity price spikes as a result of the deployment of renewable energies.

However, the solar PV sector worries that the government may be aiming to reverse the renewable energies investment flow, especially since the country has scored very well towards the national renewable energy target allocated to Romania by the European Union.

Turkey as a potential customer

Meanwhile, the Romanian electricity transmission company Transelectrica and the Turkish electricity transmission company TEIAS recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Bucharest aiming to build 1 GW of capacity and a 450-kilometer-long submarine electricity line connecting the two countries. The results of the feasibility study are expected upon its completion in November.

In addition, there are also plans for a second 1.8 GW electricity transmission line to be constructed between Romania and Bulgaria aiming to transfer electricity from Romania to Turkey via Bulgaria, which is currently Turkey’s top electricity provider.

Both projects are an effort to feed the soaring energy needs of Turkey, especially in the Istanbul region. However, should the electricity lines materialize, the renewable sector in Romania and Bulgaria could also benefit from energy exports.