Solar to get largest share in Slovakian ‘renewables’ auctions

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Slovakia’s state-owned energy company Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP) has been chosen in a government tender to be the sole buyer of electricity produced as a result of forthcoming generation capacity auctions.

The Slovakian Ministry of Economy said the decision to replace the country’s three biggest distribution companies as the buyer would simplify the system which supports renewables and high efficiency co-generation. The latter energy source, which involves harnessing heat generated in the production of gas powered electricity generation, will also be eligible for new capacity in Slovakia’s pending auctions.

National utility the SPP, said the ministry, “will buy out electricity and at the same time assume responsibility for balancing … deviations in the power grid for smaller producers who are entitled to such … support”. Under the current system, power plants are only exempted from responsibility for evening out grid supply if they have a generation capacity of no more than 250 kW.

The SPP stated: “The company has long been looking for opportunities to diversify its portfolio to become a multi-commodity company operating in a full range of gas and electricity products.”

Solar to claim biggest share

The new clean energy and co-generation support scheme – introduced by an amendment to the Act on Support of Renewable Energy Sources and High Efficiency Combined Heat and Power (Act No. 309/2009 Coll) – at the end of last year, will see auctions allocate projects with a generation capacity of more than 500 kW as well as offering support to smaller facilities.

The first procurement round may be held this year, the Slovak government said. Successful bidders will receive feed-in premium payments on top of the wholesale electricity price under 15-year power purchase agreements.

Energy website Oenergetice.cz says generation capacity sufficient to produce 1.2 TWh of electricity will be allocated next year and the same amount will follow in 2021. The site predicts gas could potentially carve out a large slice of the auctioned, state-subsidized capacity, with co-generation expected to claim 42% of the prizes on offer. Solar will be top dog, according to Oenergetice.cz, with a 44% share and hydropower will claim the balance with wind set to be left in the cold.

Slovakia has witnessed only a limited increase in residential and commercial installations in the last year as large scale solar has dried up completely.

The new rules will also permit the owners of renewable energy and co-generation systems with a capacity no larger than 500 kW to disconnect from the grid. That would mean avoiding the mandatory grid fee introduced by the Regulatory Office for Network Industries in 2013.

According to the latest statistics published by the International Renewable Energy Agency, Slovakia had around 531 MW of installed solar power generation capacity at the end of last year. Most of it – more than 500 MW – was represented by megawatt sized solar parks installed between 2010 and 2011, when a generous feed-in tariff for large scale PV was introduced and then rapidly closed.