Greece, Bul­garia, Ro­ma­nia make cau­tious steps to­wards re­new­able en­ergy goals

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Un­der the Euro­pean Union’s (EU) 20/20/20 cli­mate and en­ergy tar­gets Ro­ma­nia, Bul­garia and Greece have to boost the share of re­new­ables in their en­ergy mixes to 24%, 16% and 18%, re­spec­tively. The coun­tries have cho­sen dif­fer­ent mech­a­nisms to achieve these goals and each one is strug­gling with its own chal­lenges. As a whole, the three mem­ber states have re­ally good wind and so­lar power po­ten­tial which has al­ready been recog­nised by many in­vestors and project de­vel­op­ers. Yet, the fi­nan­cial cri­sis in Greece and un­favourable reg­u­la­tory changes in Bul­garia are putting a sig­nif­i­cant strain on the lo­cal re­new­able en­ergy mar­kets. Fur­ther­more, Ro­ma­nia and Bul­garia share a com­mon chal­lenge - age­ing in­fra­struc­ture and grid bot­tle­necks, which if not to­tally dis­cour­ag­ing for in­vestors, are at least a sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cle to a smooth project de­vel­op­ment process.

Greece eyes so­lar power as way out of cri­sis

In 2011 so­lar and wind power ac­counted for 5.5% and 1.0%, re­spec­tively, of to­tal power gen­er­a­tion in Greece. Newly in­stalled PV ca­pac­ity in the coun­try nearly tripled to 426 MW last year, data from the Hel­lenic As­so­ci­a­tion of Pho­to­voltaic Com­pa­nies (He­lapco) show. At the same time, in­stalled wind power ca­pac­ity for 2011 surged by 23% on the year to 1,626.5 MW, ac­cord­ing to the Hel­lenic Wind En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion.

Growth for the past few years has been fu­elled by the ex­ist­ing feed-in tar­iffs (FiT) and also, as an al­ter­na­tive, govern­ment sub­si­dies that cover 40% of a project’s costs. The FiTs for so­lar power were cut in Fe­bru­ary 2012, fol­low­ing a global trend mo­ti­vated by fall­ing equip­ment costs. Com­bined with the coun­try’s abun­dant so­lar re­sources, the tar­iffs re­mained ap­peal­ing.

Now the fu­ture of the re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor is un­sure due to the fi­nan­cial cri­sis in Greece, one of the hottest top­ics glob­ally. The cri­sis hit a key as­pect of new en­ergy project de­vel­op­ment – the abil­ity to cal­cu­late the in­come from a power fa­cil­ity for a cer­tain pe­riod of time – so lack of fi­nanc­ing is cur­rently ham­per­ing nu­mer­ous wind and so­lar power projects. The wors­en­ing fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion has re­sulted in more cau­tious ca­pac­ity build­ing projections for the com­ing years. In the May 2011 is­sue of US au­dit and con­sul­tancy com­pany Ernst & Young’s “all re­new­ables” in­dices Greece oc­cu­pied the 10th place, while it plunged to 21st in the Au­gust 2011 in­dices. A year later in the Au­gust 2012 is­sue of the rank­ing the coun­try oc­cu­pied the 18th spot. How­ever, as part of an am­bi­tious plan which has al­ready se­cured Brus­sels’ bless­ing, the Greek so­lar power sec­tor may turn from a vic­tim of the cri­sis into a sav­ior from it. The plan, called He­lios, en­vis­ages the con­struc­tion of a so­lar power com­plex with a ca­pac­ity of up to 10,000 MW to sig­nif­i­cantly boost Greece’s

Im­age by Ore­gonDOT

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