Greek PV trade association writes plea for assistance to Greek prime minister

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Greece's solar trade association, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO), has written an angry open letter to the Greek prime minister of Greece asking for support to help revive the country's PV industry.

Although Greece installed more PV plants in the first seven months of 2013 than in the whole of 2012, according to HEPALCO estimates, the industry has apparently lost one third of its jobs in the first half of 2013.

In 2012, 912MW were installed whereas in the first seven months of 2013, PV installation capacity totalled 979MW. HELAPCO believes new restrictive policies will lead to further job losses and pleads for prime minister Antonis Samaris to listen to the association’s recommendations.

The organisation argues that over 50,000 jobs have been created, either directly or indirectly, by the PV industry in Greece, while a further 14,000 companies have invested in solar parks and 38,000 residential customers have purchased PV installations.

According to HELAPCO, for per capita installed PV, Greece ranks fifth in the world, with €4.5 billion invested in PV in Greece over the past five years. Solar power is expected to cover 6% of total electricity demand for the nation during 2013.

HELAPCO acknowledged in a recent news release that the success of PV is owed in part to what it calls a “brave support mechanism”, including high feed-in tariffs since 2006. As in other markets, this has led to overheating of the market with capacity outstripping the ability of the electrical network to add the extra power.

Since August 2012, a temporary tax has been imposed between 25% and 42% on all operating PV plants, a halt has been put on approval of new PV projects, and feed-in tariff rates have been cut from €125 per MWh for systems under 10kWp in size, €120 per MWh for small commercial systems, defined as less that 100kWp and €95 per MWh for systems over 100kWp. Feed-in tariffs are expected to be subjected to further heavy cuts in the near future.

The organisation argues that without mid-sized and larger projects being built, it is harder to envisage costs coming down without the added economies of scale and reduced capital expenditure and operating expense that such projects could bring about.

HELAPCO proposals include:

  • A request for the feed-in tariff to be reduced gradually as has been the case in Germany, where reductions are commensurate with increases in capacity and therefore reductions in cost.
  • The reintroduction of licensing for mid- to large-scale projects
  • Additional incentives for solar producers, similar to those that exist for wind farms, for example, which can operate for 10 years tax free
  • Net metering and self-consumption of power to be introduced
  • Revival of the Helios Project, a programme that existed until recently to generate income for the nation through large-scale PV projects
  • Redefinition of future renewable energy targets
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