Grid capacity for net metering, energy community projects

Investor application rights for new solar energy projects will continue to remain suspended for an indefinite period, but existing distribution network capacity will be made available to investors submitting applications for net metering and energy community-related projects, highly ranked energy ministry officials have informed energypress.

The ministry is determined to offer as much grid capacity as possible for projects aiming to reduce the cost of energy for a wide range of consumers, the energy ministry officials noted.

Grid capacity totaling 2.5 GW has been reserved for roof-mounted photovoltaics concerning net metering projects. This reservation is expected to enable the installation of approximately 250,000 solar energy systems of up to 10 KW in the household, small business and farming categories.

Small-scale PV, energy community tariff levels given one-year extension

Non-auction privately owned solar energy units of up to 500 KW and energy communities with capacities of up to 1 MW have been given one-year tariff level  extensions, until August 31, 2023, which partially compensates for the failure, for the time being at least, of tariff increases requested by sector officials.

The one-year tariff extension means current tariffs of 65.74 euros per MWh for private owners of solar units of up to 500 KW will be maintained for an additional year instead of being reduced to 63 euros per MWh from September 1, as had been planned by authorities.

Correspondingly, current tariffs for energy communities of up to 1 MW will remain at 68.87 euros per MWh for an extra year instead of dropping to 65 euros per MWh as of September 1.

Even so, investor representatives contend the maintenance of tariffs at present levels does not suffice for sharp development cost increases of solar energy units.

New energy communities framework to aid financing, loans

The energy ministry is working on a draft bill to completely reform the regulatory framework governing energy communities as part of a wider effort promoting RES growth in Greece.

The revisions will seek to align the country’s existing regulatory framework for energy communities with the respective EU framework through the adoption of a series of EU directives and also lift a number of obstacles and resolve problems that have arisen since its implementation in 2018.

These revisions will also aim to resolve the inability of energy communities to participate in financing support programs and help them overcome difficulties encountered when seeking to qualify for bank loans.

RES projects to be granted deadline extensions due to pandemic delays

The energy ministry is considering to extend RES project deadlines, by a considerable number of months, both for projects that have secured tariffs at auctions or through non-competitive procedures, as a result of difficulties encountered by investors amid the ongoing pandemic, sources have informed.

The ministry has acknowledged the far greater degree of difficulty entailed in developing RES projects during the pandemic, the sources said. Problems encountered by investors have ranged from delivery delays of equipment to construction difficulties.

The ministry, according to the sources, is planning to extend, by six months, an existing April 30 deadline for non-auction tariffs secured by PV project investors. This would effectively enable small-scale 500 KW PV projects being developed by private investors to adopt an existing reference tariff price of 65.74 euros per MWh until October 30, when ready to operate.

Also, an existing tariff price of 68.86 euros per MWh for energy communities appears headed for an extension.

The ministry also intends to offer a ten-month deadline extension for the launch of projects being developed through competitive procedures without the loss of tariff prices already secured.

In addition, the ministry appears likely to extend a June 30 deadline for connection agreements concerning energy communities, up to 18 MW, formed through non-competitive procedures. Though the additional time to be granted for this category has yet to be decided, an extension ranging from three to six months is being considered.

Tariff clarity for private PVs, energy communities up to 1MW

Tariff levels at which photovoltaic energy producers not participating in auctions sell output will, as of May 1 next year, be fixed and not adjusted in accordance with average prices of preceding auctions, as has been the case until now, as a result of a number of legislative acts and related ministerial decisions.

This new system concerns private owners of photovoltaics with capacities up to 500 KW and photovoltaic energy communities with total capacities up to 1 MW.

However, until May 1, 2021, numerous photovoltaic projects will have secured tariffs determined by the results of a recent RES auction on July 27.

Tariff prices until November 26, 2020 will be 70.3 euros per MWh for private owners of photovoltaics up to 500 KW and 73.64 euros per MWh for energy communities up to 1 MW.

Between November 27 and a four-month period following a RES auction announced by the energy ministry for December – in other words, until April, 2021 – private owners of photovoltaics up to 500 KW will be able to sell output for 65.73 euros per MWh and energy communities up to 1 MW for 68.86 euros per MWh.

Further ahead, between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022, private owners of photovoltaics up to 500 KW will be able to sell output for 63 euros per MWh and energy communities up to 1 MW for 65 euros per MWh

Barring unexpected changes, tariff levels have been set all the way to  April 30, 2022, offering investors clarity for their business plans.

RES plan official processing prioritized in 5 categories

A ministerial decision prioritizing RES investment plan processing by authorities has just been signed by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

The decision prioritizes processing of RES investment plans – applications and provision of connection terms – in five categories. Priority levels are determined by EU regulations and the contribution potential of investment plans to the National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, are promised top-priority categorization. This also applies for investments concerning energy efficiency, waste management and biogas.

Energy community investment applications will be given a one-month advantage in the waiting line. In other words, such applications will be examined as if submitted a month earlier.

Energy community plans involving local government organizations or over 60 members are promised an even bigger time advantage of four months.

Priority processing will also be offered to investment plans in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, whose lignite-dependent local economy must be restructured as a result of the government’s decarbonization effort.

Energy community bids to lose priority, biogas plans supported

A ministerial decision revising RES application processing priorities for various categories is set to be finalized, possibly even today, a key feature being the cancellation of priority rights for new applications concerning energy communities.

The number of energy community applications has snowballed as a result of this prioritization, leaving unattended thousands of applications submitted by investors pursuing individual renewable energy projects.

Besides the termination of priority processing rights for energy communities – some cases will be exempted – the ministerial decision will also introduce a transitional formula for older energy community applications and offer priority status to certain technologies that have been neglected until now.

Investment plans are being prioritized according to their potential to contribute to the country’s updated and more ambitious National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, will be grouped into a priority-status category.

Biogas investments will also be supported under the new plan.

Priority rights for increasing energy community bids to be abolished

The energy ministry is seriously considering to abolish a priority given by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO to the examination of grid connection applications made by energy communities.

The number of energy community applications has snowballed as a result of this prioritization, leaving unattended thousands of applications submitted by investors pursuing individual renewable energy projects.

A ministerial decision on the matter could be issued next week, energypress sources informed.

Priority rights are expected to be maintained for certain cases, including energy community projects involving local government organizations and net metering plans.

A temporary solution severely curbing priority rights for energy communities is expected to be implemented until an official decision is reached.

Energy communities enable electricity consumers to also become producers through renewable energy output, while also permitting municipalities and regional authorities to establish localized energy policies.

Speculators exploiting favorable energy community terms for quick profit

Speculators exploiting favorable terms offered for energy communities are setting up frameworks of such ventures with an aim to secure licenses easier and then sell these along with communities for a quick profit, energypress sources have informed.

The energy ministry has received a growing number of evidence-backed complaints from various parts of provincial Greece.

Sellers are believed to be searching for potential buyers, offering photovoltaic projects. Complex procedures promising the prospective buyers eventual ownership of energy communities are then pitched by the sellers.

Favorable terms legislated in Greece for energy communities, especially a term offering priority grid connection rights from the distribution network operator, are being exploited by sellers as a key incentive to lure buyers.

Action aiming to halt this violation of EU and Greek terms supporting the development of energy communities will soon be announced, energy ministry officials informed.

Energy communities enable electricity consumers to also become producers through renewable energy output, while municipalities and regional authorities can establish localized energy policies.

Energy community priority to be examined for improved balance

The energy ministry is reassessing priority network access rights offered to energy communities in an effort to achieve an improved balance that would also give grid-link applications submitted by individual investors a better chance of being considered and approved by DEDDIE/DEDNO, the network distribution operator.

The lifting of obstacles for energy communities, to facilitate their acquisition of grid-link rights, has left individual RES investors out in the dark, the processing of their applications either completely forgotten or severely delayed.

The problem was raised to the energy ministry’s Director General Dimitris Tsalemis by various by various RES sector officials and agencies, including SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, at last week’s Renewable & Storage Forum in Athens, staged by energypress.

Investors must be assured their requests will eventually be examined even if other applications have priority rights, Tsalemis explained at the forum. The principle of trust in administration must be safeguarded, he noted.

Despite admitting his concern over obstacles faced by individual RES investments, the energy ministry official underlined energy communities are a tool paving the way towards the new era.

Energy communities enable electricity consumers to also become producers through renewable energy output, while also permitting municipalities and regional authorities to establish localized energy policies.

Shortage of wind, solar projects for December RES auction

The level of participation at a forthcoming RES auction announced by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for December 12 will be subdued and not cover capacities to be offered for wind and solar energy projects, market officials have forecast.

Strong investment interest for the renewable energy sector expressed in recent months is, for the time being, not expected to be followed up with action.

The subdued level of auction participation expected is linked to project maturation issues, sector officials explained to energypress.

Major license issuance delays encountered by wind energy park investors  resulted in a bottleneck of mature projects for previous auctions, leaving few projects for the upcoming December session.

The need to simplify RES licensing procedures in Greece is a key matter at present. RAE has already proposed framework revisions, while the energy ministry has established a committee tasked with delivering proposals by the end of the year for swifter RES project development.

As for solar energy projects, the priority offered to energy communities in securing connection terms with HEDNO, the electricity distribution network operator, stands as the sub-sector’s major issue at present. This has affected the ability of privately-owned solar parks from securing their grid connection terms, which, in turn, has stifled development and prevented auction participation.

The current RES framework no longer reflects the sector’s needs and is certainly not aligned with the government’s intention of setting more ambitious national RES targets and facilitating sector investments, energypress sources stressed.



EU subsidies of up to 40% for energy communities, minister reveals

A development plan for energy communities, promising decentralized, locally generated energy solutions, will, for the first time, be supported by EU subsidies covering up to 40 percent of investments, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has revealed.

An initial sum of 25 million euros will be made available for these subsidies through the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA), the minister informed.

Stathakis was responding to appeals by solar energy producer representatives and farmers using PV systems for RES output tariff increases.

Stathakis urged farmers to create energy communities and benefit from the EU subsidies. The minister left open the possibility of talks that could lead to improved terms for energy communities.

Energy communities enable electricity consumers to also become producers through renewable energy output, while municipalities and regional authorities can establish localized energy policies.

Energy communities draft bill submitted to parliament

An energy ministry draft bill for the establishment of energy communities, promising decentralized, locally generated energy solutions, was submitted to Greek Parliament for ratification last night.

The initiative is intended to encourage enterprises, agencies, local administrations as well as private users to rely on renewable energy sources as it will enable electricity consumers to also become producers. Their output could either be sold to the grid or offset with electricity drawn from the grid.

Energy communities are made possible by the ability of renewable energy sources to provide decentralized electricity production, as well as by tools such as net metering and virtual net metering.

Net metering enables 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. Virtual net metering links scattered enterprises to just one electricity power meter to offset the cost of electricity supplied by the power utility with electricity produced by these various enterprises for the grid.

Small and medium-sized enterprises will be able to reduce their energy costs while private consumers will also be in a position to cut their energy costs.

The bill for energy communities also promises to enable municipalities and regional governments to establish localized energy policies for independent management of issues such as energy poverty or promotion of electric vehicle usage.

Energy communities will, according to the draft bill, be permitted to operate as both profit-seeking enterprises and non-profit organizations. In the case of the latter category, any resulting profits will not be distributed to energy community members but utilized to fund new projects approved by respective community councils.

Energy communities will be able to produce, sell or self-consume electricity and thermal energy produced by RES facilities such as wind and PV unitsm or biogas and biomass units.

The establishment of energy communities will require at least five members, three members if concerning local government agencies, and just two members if these agencies are located on islands. Collaborations between two local government agencies will require require an additional member.

Locality will also be factored in. At least 51 percent of an energy community’s members will need to be associated with the community’s base. A term limiting the control of each energy community member to 20 percent has also been included in the draft bill to avoid centralization issues. In the case of local government agencies, this upper limit has been set at 40 percent.

Energy communities, also known as energy cooperatives, are already established in countries such as Belgium, Germany, Spain and Denmark.

Ten turbines contributing to Coopenhagen’s Middelgrunden wind park belong to the 8,552-member Middelgrunden energy community.

Greece’s energy ministry has already received positive feedback on the local energy community prospects. Potential participants such as hoteliers have already expressed a strong interest to make the most of the set-up’s benefits. Highlighting the positive outlook, a regional government council in the Peloponnese recently – well ahead of last night’s tabling of the related draft bill – voted overwhelmingly in favor of the establishment of what could become Greece’s first energy community.


Local energy communities plan receiving German support

An energy ministry plan promoting the establishment of energy communities is receiving German support through GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), a financing mechanism of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as was highlighted at the ongoing Thessaloniki International Fair over the weekend.

The GIZ mechanism, which provides support to plans and initiatives in southeast Europe, is backing the Greek energy ministry’s plan for energy communities as a result of an agreement reached by the two sides for the development of decentralized RES installations and community RES projects.

Energy communities offer decentralized, locally generated energy solutions.

Two leading energy ministry officials, Aliki Skliri and Dimitris Tsekeris, a close associate of energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, are scheduled to visit Berlin for a September 15 meeting at the foreign ministry on the Greek-German energy communities plan, officially titled “Technical assistance for renewable energies and energy efficiency in Greece”. It is being co-funded by the European Commission.

GIZ is currently also advising Greece’s energy ministry on needed legal framework revisions, which, it has stressed, are “crucial for further RES and energy efficiency development.”

GIZ has also collaborated with Greece’s energy ministry in the recent past, in 2015, as an adviser for the country’s new RES regulatory framework.