Belgian region of Flanders plans fiscal incentive for community solar and wind projects

Following the recent commissioning of Flanders’ first MW-sized PV project after the revision of the green certificate scheme in 2013, the Minister of Energy of Belgium’s Flemish-speaking region, Bart Tommelein, has revealed he is planning to introduce a fiscal incentive for community solar and wind power projects.

In an interview with local newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen, which was also published on the minister’s official website, Tommelein said he will soon discuss details of the new fiscal break with ministers of Belgium’s federal government, and that he is also planning to raise the size limits for this kind of projects.

The minister specified that the new measure is expected to support, for example, parents that want to invest in solar energy on the rooftop of their children’s schools or customers that want to invest in solar on the roof of a supermarket. Tommelein added that this fiscal incentive will not be granted for a long period of time and that its amount will be very limited, as members of communities will realize that solar is profitable also without any kind of incentive. “Solar power systems are becoming cheaper and more efficient. Communities investing in solar or wind power projects will be able to see a return on their investments ranging from 5% to 6% per year,” Tommelein stated.

The minister is targeting to install approximately a further 6.4 million solar modules in the region by the end of his mandate in 2020. This, Tommelein, stressed is expected to help the region reach a 10.3% of share renewables in its energy mix by 2020, from only 6% currently.

Flanders is currently supporting solar and renewables through a quota system and a certificate trading scheme. According to numbers released in June by Tommelein, which cited statistics from local power distributors Eandis and Infrax, 16,863 new PV installations were registered in the period between January and May 2017, thus almost doubling the number of new registrations of the same period in the past year, which was 8,840.

According to the head of local solar association PV Vlaanderen, Bram Claeys, the Flemish solar market is currently offering interesting prices for PV systems. “The continued vocal support for solar PV in Flanders by minister Tommelein,” Claeys told pv magazine, “has resulted in a real uptick in the installation rate. This is reflective of the sound investment solar PV offers electricity consumers. Another important driver for the increased market activity is of course the even lower cost of solar, where we now see an average installed cost of €1,4/W, with some offers going down to the psychological milestone of €1/W. The next challenges for minister Tommelein are to also improve support for mid-size solar systems on large commercial and public roofs, and to accelerate the transition to a smart and flexible grid.”