Bulgaria’s proposed solar levy would ‘kill’ industry

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Bulgaria’s parliament has proposed legislative changes that could see a 20% tax imposed on revenue from solar and wind energy.

The country’s renewable energy industry said the move would snuff out investor confidence in Bulgaria’s PV and wind energy markets.

The proposals were made by members of the parliamentary budget committee from the ultra-nationalist Ataka or ‘Attack’ party as part of a series of amendments to Bulgaria’s 2014 budget law, which is pending final approval.

If approved, the government would levy a quarterly charge on revenue from solar and wind generators.

A Bulgarian court has already rejected an attempt to impose a grid access fee on solar and wind energy projects, and the Bulgarian Wind Energy Association (BGWEA) said the latest proposals would be similarly damaging to the deployment of renewables in the country.

“Once again, a hasty, ill-advised and careless decision of a state institution threatens to permanently undermine the future development of the Bulgarian energy sector and the economic welfare of the country at the expense of a very short-sighted and artificial attempt to preserve the status quo,” BGWEA said in a statement.

“In essence, the proposed texts are similar in design to the grid access price already revoked by the court, and if they are adopted at the final voting in the plenary session of parliament, this will cause a new wave of lawsuits and a final destruction of investor confidence in the rule of law in Bulgaria.”

BGWEA described the proposals as “openly discriminatory” towards solar and wind producers and claimed they would “stop the process of diversification of energy sources in the country with serious consequences both on the energy security and price of electricity to consumers”.

Ivo Ivanov, deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association, agreed the proposals, if implemented, would “damage” the future deployment of PV and solar capacity that has already been installed.

But he said he remained “confident” the proposals would be rejected by Bulgaria’s parliament as, he claimed, none of the main political parties seemed to be aware Ataka’s proposals had been included. The proposals are due to be debated next week.

The deployment of renewables has been growing in Bulgaria since subsidies were introduced in 2011, with solar having now reached around 1GW of capacity. But renewables have been blamed for steadily increasing electricity bills for consumers.

Ivanov maintained that because PV only accounts for around 1.8% of Bulgaria’s total generating capacity, it could not be responsible for increasing energy bills.

He said wider reforms were needed in Bulgaria to make its energy market function more effectively. “It’s not solar that’s meaning high prices, it’s the fact the market is not functioning properly,” he told PV Tech.

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