Image credit: Hans Renier / Unsplash
Auction milestones have brought European solar operators good news this week, including a PV-dominated tender in Germany and the new call in Greece for bids for the summer.
On Wednesday, Germany’s Federal Network Agency (FNA) assigned the entire 200MW-plus contract pot of its April 2020 technology-neutral auction to solar firms, who had put forward 553.1MW of bids where their wind peers had tabled none.
The FNA said it will not identify for now the solar firms behind the 203.7MW, 30-project fleet of auction winners, a change implemented this year to ensure tender deadlines do not start ticking for the PV operators facing delays from COVID-19.
The Agency did specify that the PV winners – led by Bavarian projects, as in past tenders – were contracted at tariffs of 4.97 to 5.61 euro cents per kWh (5.45 to 6.15 US dollar cents per kWh), with the average sitting at 5.33 euro cents per kWh (5.84 US dollar cents per kWh).
The oversubscribed, PV-dominated nature of German renewable tenders has been a pattern for some time now (see table below), with prices consistently hovering around – and sometimes dropping below – the four-to-five-euro-cent mark.
The auction results add to a bright week for German solar, which witnessed on Monday a government deal to unblock a key support measure – the lifting of a subsidy cap – that had been caught up by a separate dispute over wind turbines.
Athens in 482.03MW new PV push after April price feat
If Germany awarded a new batch of solar auction contracts this week, Greece laid out plans to hand out its own later this year.
Also on Wednesday, the country’s energy regulator RAE kickstarted the gathering of bids for technology-specific auctions that will see 482.03MW offered to PV applicants of 20MW or less, and 481.45MW put forward for wind applicants of 50MW or less.
Operators of either technology will have until 29 June 2020 to table their bids, which will carry participation fees of €500 (solar) and €1,000 (wind). According to RAE’s present timetable, the actual auctioning of solar and wind contracts will happen on 27 July 2020.
For solar winners, commissioning deadlines will differ between projects of 1MW or less (12 months), to those boasting a capacity in the 1MW-5MW (15 months) and the 5MW-20MW range (18 months). Six-month extensions may be granted to projects across all sizes, RAE said.
With Greece’s solar tender in particular, bidding will start from a maximum of 6.3 euro cents per kWh (6.92 US dollar cents per kWh). In early April, the country’s latest technology-neutral tender pushed prices below the five-euro-cent barrier, with solar bagging all contracts but one.
Germany and Greece – amongst those in Europe moving for an earlier easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions – have both supported a green pandemic recovery in the EU. In addition, the Greek state joined seven other EU members last week as they called for a revival of PV manufacturing.
The business of solar is changing, as the industry scales up, technology, IT and new players to the market will add complexity. This sparks a host of opportunities such as co-location of solar and storage and the rise of unsubsidised solar projects as well as challenges which will question the very business model of European solar asset owners. Solar Finance & Investment Europe is the meeting place for institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, solar, wind and storage funds and large energy buyers to do business.