Bioenergy, Hydropower, Solar

Should Greek-made equipment get FiT help?

How serious is Greece about its solar industry? It’s already explored selling solar power as a way out of its massive debt, and now there’s possible interest in exploring a benefit for domestic solar PV technology.

January 12, 2012 –  Greece has among the highest return rates for solar PV projects of any region, helped by a generous tariff, and the country is aiming for 2.2GWp of installed PV by 2020. (This despite a persistently delicate financial situation, both domestically and throughout Europe, that gives pause to investors and developers.) And now, there’s another angle being explored: give a break to domestic PV suppliers.

An unidentified “Greek photovoltaic equipment construction company” (we assume this means a tool maker/supplier; a request for clarification went unanswered) has hired law firm Metaxas & Associates to explore measures to support a national PV industry, compatible with EU State Aid law. More specifically, they’re looking at the feasibility of creating “a potential premium feed-in tariff” for using PV equipment made in Greece. Initial determinations, the firm says, suggest this could happen, at least in double-negative legalese: “such a premium could not be considered as a priori incompatible with the European state aid legal framework.” Looking at EU case-law and developing/implementing such FiT method in Greece, “it is highly doubtful that such a measure might be considered as an incompatible state aid,” the firm says, citing Article 107 par.1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It also cites “international examples” of local content requirements intended to support domestic PV equipment suppliers. ([Update 1/13]: The report cites both Italy and Ontario, for example, as examples of regions that incorporate local content requirements as part of solar-friendly policies. India’s market is being shaped in part by domestic content requirements, too.)

[Update 1/13]: Here’s a list of Greece’s current FiT scheme:

Greece’s embrace of domestic solar PV is serious enough that it’s explored selling solar-energy generation as a way to pare down massive debt. Here’s a quick rundown of solar PV projects in Greece announced in just the past few months:

– In December, Solar Cells Hellas and EPC contractor Biosar connected a 5.3GW project in the northwest of Peloponnesus, built with mc-Si PV modules from Soltech and Admotech. Also, the US Embassy in Athens commissioned a 100kWp solar install (c-Si modules supplied by ICB Solar).

– Enel Green Power operates 191MW of installed renewable energy capacity in Greece, most of that in wind (177MW) and a few small hydro plants. But in October it activated its first solar project: a 4.9MW ground-mount install in Ilia (western Greece).

– In August, SPI Solar took over development of a 4.4MW ground-mount project (using LDK modules) in northern Greece as its first project in the country,

– In July, Yingli panels were installed in the country’s largest solar plant, a 10MW utility-scale plant in Larissa built by Biosar for the energy unit of Greek textile conglomerate STIAFILCO (which also has other multi-megawatt projects for solar PV, biogas and biomass).