Hungarian government to encourage uptake of agricultural solar

Hungary is hoping to encourage developers to build small ground-mounted solar parks at suitable agricultural sites by offering an easing of development regulations, access to loans from the Hungarian Development Bank and the promise that the State will sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) to all solar parks that meet the requirements.

Addressing a news conference in Budapest, Hungary’s minister heading the Prime Minister’s office János Lázár said that the government “supports the creation of as many solar power plants in Hungary as possible,” revealing that subsidized loans would be made available to developers or farmers seeking to build solar farms no larger than 500 kW on plots no larger than one hectare.

The state-owned Development Bank, MFB will provide the loans, while the government will relax regulations that currently dictate the narrow parameter for the use of farmland.

Currently, Hungary sources 29% of its power needs from outside its borders, and while 50% of the nation’s power is generated from a single nuclear plant, the government is eager to exert greater autonomy over its energy supply.

Many parts of Hungary’s southeastern regions are prime development spots for solar plants, enjoying excellent levels of solar irradiation, flat terrain and good infrastructure.

The government is targeting 14% renewable energy penetration by 2020. According to the European Commission, the nation’s currently generations less than 10% of its electricity from clean sources. Lázár said that some 2,600 solar power plant permits were issued in the second half of 2016, with around half of those currently at various stages of construction.

Last month, the Hungarian government updated its FIT decree to allow some 2 GW of approved renewable projects approved under the scheme – which was closed in mid-2016 – to still be eligible for the FIT provided they are completed before the end of 2018.

Accurate data on Hungary’s cumulative installed PV capacity remains hard to pin down, but estimates provided to pv magazine by the country’s Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research suggest Hungary ended 2016 with around 270 MW of solar capacity installed.