Chinese company to bankroll Moldova’s first big solar park

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Chinese iron and steel manufacturer MCC International Incorporation Ltd. is planning to build a solar park in Moldova between the end of the year and early 2019, according to a statement from Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.

Tudor Ulianovschi, the Moldovan minister for the government department, met the Chinese company’s vice-president, Zhang Ye, during a recent visit to China to discuss details of solar projects, as well as other investments MCCII intends to make in Moldova.

Zhang Ye said MCCII is ready and has the potential to become a reliable partner of the Government of Moldova in priority projects of modernization and development of the economy, such as road infrastructure, digital education, renewable energy, waste management and management of drinking water. More details on the solar project, however, were not provided.

The prime minister of Moldova, Pavel Filip has spoken of his enthusiasm for being part of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative that is intended to develop infrastructure around the world backed by Beijing money, and that has raised the hackles of U.S. president Donald Trump.

Moldova’s first MW-sized PV plant was commissioned by Italian companies Fly Ren Energy Group and Consulcesi Tech in May.

Solar makes slow progress

The nation has seen very limited growth of renewable energy sources, although it introduced a new law related to such projects in March 2017.  The new rules provided dispatch priority for renewables while introducing net metering for renewable energy power stations with a capacity up to 100 kW. The new regulation was intended to create an auction mechanism for large-scale renewables that is expected to establish a fixed tariff and allocate approximately 400 MW of capacity.

Smaller projects are eligible for a FIT scheme managed by local energy regulator ANRE and the Energy Efficiency Agency. In May 2017, the ANRE granted a FIT of MDL1.90 ($0.10)/kWh, with VAT excluded, for the first time to a 41 kW PV project submitted by local developer Opal-Succes SRL.

In May, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced a partnership with South Africa’s Sun Exchange to help Moldovan universities harness solar. The project is based on SolarCoin, a cryptocurrency introduced by blockchain start-up ElectriCChain.

“People who purchase solar cells through the South Africa-based Sun Exchange can lease them out to hospitals, businesses, schools and private residences,” said the UNDP in its statement.

Moldova meets around 88% of its power demand with imports, according to a recent document issued by the Ministry of Economy. Solar has an installed capacity of only 2.2 MW.