Greece to auction new PV power

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During a solar thermal power seminar in Greece on Friday, an official from Greece’s Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change announced that Greece’s new policy framework in support of renewable energies will be brought up for public consultation very soon. Adding that the ministry aims to have the new policy framework brought into law by the beginning of July.

The EU’s Environmental and Energy State Aid Guidelines (EEGA) are the driving force behind the policy change, which state that the bloc’s renewable energy generators need to sell their electricity in the market as of 2016. Member states are also obliged to replace their feed-in tariff (FiT) remuneration schemes for the support of renewable energy with market premiums that offer a top-up on the wholesale electricity price. However, PV plants below 500 KW are excluded from the market premiums obligation, allowing FiTs for these systems to be set independently.

Greece has not yet aligned its renewable energy support scheme with the EU guidelines and needs to do so as soon as possible.

In February, Greece’s energy ministry published an initial outline of the new scheme. According to the document, FiTs for systems larger than 500 KW will be decided via competitive tenders, with the first of the tenders expected to start within the first half of 2016. It says that there will be at least two tenders in 2016. The new scheme will exclude renewable energy projects in Greece’s islands that are not interconnected with the mainland’s electricity system.

It appears that Greece’s energy ministry is slightly behind schedule, which is presumably why the official said on Friday that the new policy framework needs to be legislated by the beginning of July.

Although the specifics of the tenders have not been made public yet, based on the ministry’s preliminary plan and information available in the Greek press, it appears that the ministry will tender about 50 MW of new PV for projects over 500 KW in 2016. Some stakeholders have mentioned a first tender for projects ranging from 500 KW to 1 MW and a second tender for projects larger than 1 MW. The same stakeholders said that there will be a cap on the biddings of around €90 per MWh.

Nevertheless, this is good news for the resurgence of a market that saw a commendable amount of new solar PV added in 2012 and 2013, but then stagnated in 2014 and 2015. Something that may be crucial to the success of the new scheme is the foundation for a balanced system of PV power remuneration set by the EEAG. This may help it avoid the pitfalls of the past Greek policy that allowed unsustainable rates of return for PV projects, leading the sector to bankruptcy and stagnation.