Belgium: Flanders to allow direct lines for solar, RE starting from 2019

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The government of Flanders, the Flemish-speaking macroregion of Belgium, has approved a draft decree submitted by the region’s Minister of Energy, Bart Tommelein, which allows enterprises to sell electricity to each other under the so-called direct line model (Directe lijn), starting from January 1, 2019.

According to Tommelein – who announced in early April that the measures were being taken – the new rules will improve conditions for the signing of PPAs among private companies, while also boosting the development of more and larger C&I projects.

“Some companies do have space for solar panels or a windmill, but they have little energy consumption themselves. A direct connection with another company in the neighborhood that purchases that energy may then offer a solution,” Tommelein said in his statement.

Under the new rules, the buyers of electricity under this model will be exempt from paying any kind of grid-fee.

The sale of power to a final client located at a site, which is not on the same area of the power generator is, in theory, already possible in Flanders. According to the Flemish government, however, this is currently only achievable in regions where the power network does not have enough capacity.

Flanders currently hosts 73% of Belgium’s installed PV capacity, but most of it comes from residential PV systems not exceeding 10 kW in size. For this reason, Tommelein is looking to increase the size of future rooftop projects, as volumes are urgently needed. The minister, meanwhile, is planning to bring the region’s total installed cumulative PV capacity to 6.7 GW by 2030, which means at least another 4.2 GW.

The 2020 target for solar was increased by Tommelein from 2,670 GWh to 3,544 in October 2017. He also reduced the duration of support for commercial and industrial PV from 15 to 10 years. The change, however, will not reduce the support levels, just the period over which the support is awarded.

Support for PV systems above 10 kW comes in the form of tradeable green certificates. Per MWh, these would be worth about €65 to €67 for systems between 10 kW and 750 kW.