License retention fees, due in 2017, to test wind-energy investments

This year promises to be crucial for the futures of a large number of wind-energy ventures clocking up six years since their acquisitions of operating licenses as investors will need to provide hefty retention fees if they want their respective licenses to remain valid.

This retention fee, due following a six-year period, was included in a draft law passed in 2010. It was introduced as part of a package to simplify the acquisition process for wind-energy venture licenses by abolishing environmental prerequisites.

As a result, the megawatt capacity licensed out for such ventures in 2010 surpassed the levels of all previous years. These ventures licensed in 2010 have now clocked up six years. Investors will need to pay 1,000 euros per MW, every year, to retain their licenses.

Major and smaller investors with many wind-energy projects in their portfolios will find themsleves needing to decide which projects they wish to maintain by covering the demanded retention fees.

On another sector front, authorities have asked the energy ministry to soften its handling of wind-energy investors who signed tariff agreements with LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, by December 31, 2015, to secure feed-in tariff levels of 105 euros per MWh, under the condition that their units will have begun producing for the grid by June, 2018. An extension beyond this date has been requested, provided the projects have approached completion, meaning about 70-75 percent ready.

As for newer projects for which investors took up an offer to secure feed-in premiums of 98 euros per MWh by submitting license applications to LAGIE by the end of 2016 - and, as a result, were spared of needing to participate in auctions for their tariff levels - the operator is pushing hard to have all these applications processed by the end of February. If new contracts concerning these applications are not signed by then, the investors will most likely need to take part in tariff auctions.