Net metering ‘represents local PV sector’s only hope’

The prospects offered by the introduction of net metering represents the only hope of reviving Greece’s photovoltaic sector, a Powermag article focused on the PV markets of Greece, Italy, and Croatia has highlighted.

The net metering plan will enable electricity consumers who generate their own power from an eligible on-site facility and deliver it to local distribution facilities to offset the electric energy provided by the utility during an applicable billing period.

“Many players, among them owners of conventional power stations, have succeeded in portraying PV systems as costly options. Nowadays, however, it has become clear that solar energy is ready, costs are low, and funding is available in many cases,” Eicke Weber, director of Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for solar energy systems, was quoted as saying in the Powermag article. “The only thing missing in Germany and Europe is political will,” he added.

The market penetration of PV systems measures 7.6 percent in Greece, 8 percent in Italy, and 7 percent in Croatia, Powermag noted.

The magazine article offered an account of the past flurry of activity in Greece’s PV market, as well as generous subsidies offered to sector investors prior to the recession, all of which has fallen flat and led to the market’s collapse. Future investors have since decided to wait and see, the article added. In 2014, a mere 16 MW of new PV systems was installed in Greece, it pointed out.

According to Ilias Tsagas of the local PV Magazine, the sector enjoyed extremely high returns on investment in the past, until retroactive tariff reductions were implemented.

The Powermag articles stresses that the Greek market is now dependent on net metering for future stability, as this option has increased incentives.

Stelios Psomas, a consultant at SEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO), explained that household tariffs at present measure 0.115 euros per KWh, while savings through net metering reach 0.13 euros per KWh.

The local recession and capital controls, in particular, stand as the main challenges for Greece, the Powermag article concludes. Stability in Greece will “make it easier for energy policies from abroad to proceed,” it notes.

Greece has received loans and support from abroad primarily intended for conventional power stations rather than the RES sector, which has prompted reaction from environmental groups such as Greenpeace, the article noted.