Just a fraction of RES connection term applications result in installed capacity as one in three applications for small-to-medium solar energy projects are being approved, on average, according to unofficial data provided by regional authorities of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.
RES market players are well aware of this high percentage of rejections, and, as such, consider recent energy ministry measures affecting 500-KW PV projects and energy community projects to be unacceptable.
Worse still, the lockdown’s impact on public services has made it more difficult for RES investors to obtain necessary supporting documents from regional services, forestry authorities and other agencies in order to submit complete connection term applications to DEDDIE/HEDNO as well as power grid operator IPTO by an approaching December 31 deadline.
The combined effect of the aforementioned factors is causing a significant contraction of the small-to-medium solar energy market, sector officials have noted.
DEDDIE/HEDNO has requested more flexible operating terms, in terms of geographical jurisdiction, from the energy ministry to hasten its processing ability. At present, the operator examines connection term applications on a broad regional level but also wants more control at a narrower provincial level.
This would effectively enable swifter approval of connection term applications by RES investors in provinces where capacity is available. Investors would be spared of bureaucratic processing at a regional level.
Speaking at a recent energypress conference, a DEDDIE/HEDNO official noted the operator estimates all connection term applications it has received will have been processed by next summer.
Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has decided to push for a revision of evaluation criteria concerning connection term applications for solar energy projects following talks with sector professionals, the objective being to unblock thousands of project applications by next summer.
The operator is expected to forward to the energy ministry during the week – if it has not done so already – its proposal for revisions to a related ministerial decision implemented last March concerning prioritization and assessment methods for connection-term applications.
The proposed revisions would give DEDDIE/HEDNO flexibility to also examine applications on a more localized scale, at municipal level, not just on a bigger provincial level, as is the case at present.
In other words, DEDDIE/HEDNO wants connection-term application decisions to be based on the availability of grid capacity at a municipal level, as opposed to requiring investors to wait in line for approval by provincial authorities.
If the operator’s proposed changes are implemented, then thousands of PV connection-term applications could be processed, for approval or rejection, over the next ten or so months.
Current rules have prompted an accumulation of these applications at DEDDIE/HEDNO.
Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO is struggling to keep up with an increasing inflow of applications for connection terms by investors behind solar energy projects, while, in many cases, many applications, when finally processed, are not being approved as a result of network saturation.
This problem mainly concerns smaller-scale investments whose capacity is not enough to warrant grid connections via the power grid operator IPTO. DEDDIE is not able to upgrade the network with substations, wherever this is technically possible.
Though the distribution operator has made considerable administrative progress it has not been enough to cope with the increased number of applications.
In the first half of 2020, DEDDIE responded, either positively or negatively, to a total of 1,500 connection term applications by RES investors representing a total of 580 MW, energypress sources informed.
This is almost double the inflow processed by DEDDIE in the second half of 2019 (730 applications, 245 MW), and triple the number the distribution operator processed in the first half of 2019 (520 applications, 165 MW).
Highlighting the scale of the problem faced by DEDDIE, some 7,000 applications arriving from various parts of the the country currently remain pending. Even at its currently faster pace, DEDDIE will require at least two years to get through these applications, joined constantly be new arrivals, many of these concerning energy communities, which are given priority.
A series of RES sector measures must urgently be legislated and not held back by any pre-election obstacles, otherwise the sector faces a serious risk of devastation, ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, has warned.
The revisions required include granting deadline extensions for grid connections concerning new RES stations that have submitted installation license applications, the association noted.
Also, connection agreements need to be signed for RES projects that have been completed but whose agreements have remained pending as a result of procedural delays at power grid operator IPTO, ESIAPE noted.
Legislative revisions are also needed to enable the induction of RES producers into the Day Ahead Schedule; permit biomass and biogas electricity production; and to extend work contracts of scientists employed at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, set to expire on June 30, to ensure the authority’s ability to function properly, crucial for the RES sector, ESIAPE pointed out.