Big solar going back to Romania

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Romania’s Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CE Oltenia) plans to build four PV plants with a combined capacity of 310 MW at one of its coal power facilities.

The company is now seeking consultants to conduct feasibility studies for the four projects, which are part of its restructuring efforts and decarbonization plan. According to Romanian media sources, the four projects will span 595 hectares, and their capacities will range from 60 MW to 95 MW.

Virgil Popescu, the Romanian energy minister, said in late February that the government, which holds a stake of roughly 77% in CE Oltenia, would support the restructuring plan with a RON 1.2 billion ($281.7 million) loan. The European Commission has already approved the plan.

“The decarbonization plan that involves the diversification of the company’s activity in the gas and solar energy sectors,” the minister said at the time.

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CE Oltenia’s coal power complex consists of 12 generations units with a combined capacity of 3.24 GW. According to IEA Clean Coal Centre, Popescu has said that the company wants to shut down 1.3 GW of coal-fired generating capacity by 2026. It aims to replace that capacity with 1.45 GW of gas-fired generation.

If the large-scale PV projects are actually built, they will finally mark the revival of the large-scale solar energy business in Romania, following several years of stagnation.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the country has installed about 1.38 GW of solar. Most of this capacity comes from megawatt-scale PV plants built under the country’s now-expired green certificates scheme. Green certificates were only granted to companies that connected their PV projects to the grid before Jan. 31, 2016.

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