Law firm CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz has published a guide on the prospects for the installation and utilization of rooftop photovoltaics and net metering in selected of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries.
Faced with a jump in energy prices, households, firms and organizations around the world need an electricity supply at a relatively stable cost that helps to reduce their carbon footprint and dependence on natural gas and other fossil fuels. By installing rooftop PVs and putting a net metering system in place, end-consumers can reduce their annual electricity cost to zero maintains international law firm CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz in its new guide Prospects for installation and utilization of rooftop solar photovoltaics in the CEE.
Net metering policies lower the demand for electricity and allow utilities to better manage their peak electricity loads. In addition, by encouraging electricity production near the point of consumption, net metering reduces the strain on distribution systems and prevents losses in long-distance electricity transmission and distribution, which in some CEE countries amounts to up to 10% of the total electricity produced.
Securing viable alternatives to electricity from fossil fuels at predictable prices
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) from solar and wind power production is cheaper than that from fossil fuels. Importantly, while fossil fuel electricity has become more expensive in recent months, the cost of electricity produced from wind and solar is said to be stable, which could indicate that an electricity system based predominantly on renewables could be less subject to price volatility. However, fixed feed-in tariffs for electricity from renewables still plays a role and could influence these results.
Rooftop PVs and net metering help reduce air pollution and control air quality, which is a significant issue in several CEE countries, especially during the winter season. On the other hand, the most significant drawbacks are the relatively high costs of installing solar panels and the risk of overloading the distribution and transmission system during the summer peaks in production.
Most countries in CEE offer subsidies
However, based on available statistics, costs associated with rooftop PV installation have fallen 82% since 2010, and, according to the IRENA’s latest estimates, they are expected to decrease even further – approximately 59% by 2025. In addition, most countries offer subsidies for the installation of rooftop PVs and other benefits to end-consumers.
Finally, more widespread use of rooftop PVs could have negative effects on the power network including reverse power flow, voltage fluctuations and power losses. Some of these could be mitigated by timely infrastructure investments, CMS said.
When a prosumer’s electricity production is higher than its consumption, the excess is fed back into the grid
Net metering is usually defined as a simple billing arrangement in which surplus energy produced from rooftop PVs is measured by an end-consumer’s electricity provider and subtracted from its monthly electricity bill. When an end-consumer’s electricity production is higher than its electricity consumption, the excess generation is fed back into the grid.
The report covers North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The procedure for prosumers in North Macedonia is quick
The procedure for obtaining rooftop PV installation approval for the maximum installed capacity of 1 MW in North Macedonia is straightforward and quick because construction permits are not required. Individuals, firms and state institutions can expect a reply within five days of submitting a request. In most cases, the investor needs to pay a fee before the installation decision is made.
The rooftop capacity in North Macedonia is capped at 4 kW for households and 20 kW for small consumers
Prosumer status can be acquired in North Macedonia if the investor is not supplied by the universal energy supplier. It can install rooftop PVs with a capacity of up to 4 kW (for households) or up to 20 kW (for small consumers) on buildings it owns or uses, though the government intends to boost the cap.
Situation in other countries
In Serbia, last year’s Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources introduced the notion of “prosumers” or consumer-producers, establishing a long-awaited legal framework for end-consumers to produce energy for their own needs from renewable sources and deliver the excess electricity to their supplier.
The scheme covers households, housing communities, legal entities, natural persons and entrepreneurs. The calculation period for settling receivables and liabilities between the consumer-producer and the supplier is one year (while the relevant period ends on April 1). If the prosumer transmits more energy to the supplier than it took, the difference remains with the supplier free of charge, otherwise, the prosumer must pay the difference to the supplier.
In Slovenia, another country in the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News, the investor must obtain approval from the environmental, concession and heritage conservation authorities to become a prosumer. To connect a facility with a rated power greater than 1 MW to the public grid, the investor must also obtain energy and construction permits.
As for Turkey, the most important issue is the capacity of the distribution transformer – the amount of electricity generated by solar panels in the area concerned must not exceed 50%.