Greece installs first virtual net-metering PV; awaits ministerial approval


Greenpeace Greece, the Greek arm of the international environmental organization, has funded a 10 KW solar PV system in the city of Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece.

The system is installed on the rooftop of a local high school and aims to be the country’s inaugural virtual net-metering system. Generated electricity will cover the needs of a hostel for women and children who are victims of violence. The hostel is managed by Thessaloniki’s city council and is located far from the PV installation at the high school.

Such an arrangement is possible through what is commonly known as virtual net-metering. Greece has legislated net-metering since December 2014, while the country’s new renewable energy law approved last summer allows virtual net-metering, albeit only for installations developed by city and regional councils, schools, universities, farmers and farming associations.

The law, approved by the legislature last summer, requires the energy minister to specify the technical details for the virtual net-metering scheme separately. Such details do not need to be re-approved by Greece’s Parliament. A ministerial decision is sufficient and will see the virtual net-metering provisions signed into law.

However, the minister has delayed this piece of policy-making. In fact, the ministry consulted on its virtual net-metering plans in October 2016, yet the minister has note yet provided approval.

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The PV system in Thessaloniki will connect to the grid when the ministry of environment and energy approves the technical details of the virtual net-metering scheme, said Greenpeace Greece. It has called on the ministry to do so as soon as possible so that similar installations can be developed in the country.

Thessaloniki’s mayor Yiannis Boutaris said it is important that the ministry acts before the summer, so that the new PV system can make use of Greece’s excellent solar irradiation in the warm months. What is important with virtual net-metering, added the mayor, is that it allows the city council to invest the money saved to develop similar projects and support our social work.

Thessaloniki is a pioneer in installing solar PV on its schools’ rooftops. And Greenpeace Greece has also run before the ‘Solarization of Greece’ campaign aiming to promote net-metering installations.

Greece’s net-metering added 4.2 MW of new PV capacity in 2016 dispersed across 337 new systems, however the country’s political and economic incompetence hinder the scheme’s progress.

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