RES draft bill parliamentary fast-track vote now imminent

Following months of deliberation, Greek lawmakers are expected to forward the country’s new renewable energy support framework to a special parliamentary committee by the end of this week before it is ratified in parliament through fast-track procedures in order to meet a deadline for the next bailout tranche.

Though initially met with suspicion by many market authorities, the plan does not seem to carry unpleasant surprises for RES-sector investors. Energy ministry officials are aiming to achieve a smooth transition from the old feed-in-tariffs system to the new feed-in-premium approach and tenders.

Wind energy producers are the most unsettled at present as they do not yet know when and under what terms they will be included in tender procedures. The draft bill makes reference to 2017, possibly late that year, as a starting date, once RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has reached a decision on the matter. This will  need to be announced before the end of November this year.

The main concern for wind energy producers at present entails how feed-in-premiums will be implemented. A plan for contracts concerning new projects expected to be pursued after autumn does not exist. Wind energy producers fear that more time, or an entire year, may be lost and that mature plans will be left to drift.

RES projects for which trading contracts were signed by the end of 2015 are ensured of old tariffs levels as long as they are developed and launched for operation, either on a trial basis or full-scale, by June 30, 2018.

The draft bill also includes provisions for old wind energy facilities that have operated for 15 to 20 years and whose contracts are close to expiring. Investors here will have two options, either to carry on operating their existing units and selling output at lower wholesale price levels, or to repower and revamp facilities and sign new contracts based on the new terms.

As for the biomass-biogas sub-sector, the ministry has decided to offer tariffs at realistic levels after stunning certain investors with a tariff reduction proposal for new projects.

The photovoltaic sector is looking to regain momentum after three years of stagnancy. The energy ministry is eager to see how an upcoming pilot tender for PV capacities, to be staged towards the end of 2016, will fare. Any mishaps here would definitely also negatively impact future tenders. Given that a freeze had been imposed on  licences for new projects between 2012 and 2014, few mature projects remain to take part in the tenders. Essentially, the market will need to start from scratch and find its footing.

A total of at least 40 MW will be offered through the first pilot tender. Two categories will be established for participants, dividing them based on project capacities of more or less than one MW.

Investors who lost connection offer terms last February because they had not submitted letters of guarantee will have the right to regain these terms should they submit letters of gurantee prior to the new tender.