Renewables

Cyprus, Bulgarian capital Sofia preparing photovoltaics programs for vulnerable households

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Published

November 9, 2023

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Published:

November 9, 2023

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Even with substantial subsidies available in the European Union, many families can’t afford to set up rooftop photovoltaic systems. The Cypriot government is developing a funding mechanism for solar panels that the beneficiaries will be able to install without any upfront payment. The local authority in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, will launch a program for up to 4 kW with batteries for free.

Most countries in Southeastern Europe now have programs with incentives for solar power panels on family houses. But Montenegro was a trailblazer with a mechanism that it launched two years ago through state-owned electricity producer Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG). The company installs the rooftop photovoltaic systems and citizens pay them off in monthly installments not higher than their electricity bills.

Both sides benefit from an increase in power output, the security of energy supply and a gradual or long-term financial gain.

In the European Union, member states and local authorities are rolling out more and more subsidy schemes for solar panels for households. Still, even there they often imply upfront costs that many people can’t afford even though the investment usually pays off within just five to seven years.

The Cypriot government and Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia are both preparing to launch public calls to cover the entire cost of equipping single-family homes with small photovoltaic systems. In Cyprus, there is also an option to obtain subsidized solar panels without any initial investment.

Installments to match electricity bills in Cyprus

Cyprus has earmarked a total of EUR 90 million for the Photovoltaics for All mechanism for the next three years, Philenews reported. The authorities calculated that the EUR 30 million prepared for 2024 can cover 6,000 households.

Applications are expected to be opened in the first months of next year for small and medium-sized households. The scheme is part of a plan of 17 measures to alleviate the impact of high inflation.

According to earlier reports, the upper limit for participation may be set at 1.6 MWh of electricity consumption per year, which could be covered with a rooftop PV system of 4.2 kW. The plan involves grants of EUR 1,000. Users would pay for the solar panels in installments of EUR 150 every two months plus EUR 30 for electricity. The sum would match their current electricity bills.

Beneficiaries of the upcoming grant program in Cyprus would pay up to EUR 180 every two months

At the same time, the government is said to be negotiating a cost ceiling with solar panel suppliers. The government and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), the state-owned electricity producer and distribution system operator, reduced the approval time to four months.

Another option for future prosumers with Photovoltaics for All is to get a grant of EUR 1,500, without limitations for the capacity of the solar power system. In that case, they would need to cover the difference in costs for the purchase and installation.

Vulnerable households will be able to get PV systems for free. Additional grants are available for households that insulate their roofs.

Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry George Papanastasiou has said that every roof in Cyprus should have a solar panel system.

Free heating with free solar panels in Sofia

The Sofia Municipality, also known as Stolichna (capital) Municipality, has an air quality improvement component in its new photovoltaics program for single-family homes. It launched a tender for a contractor for the purchase and installation of rooftop solar power panels with batteries.

Households that replaced their wood and coal stoves with air-to-air heat pumps (inverter air conditioners) through an earlier local program will be eligible for up to 4 kW for free, Capital.bg reported. Then they would no longer receive subsidies for heating.

The idea is that the PV system would cover the entire consumption of the heat pump, so heating would be free. One of the conditions will be that the home is not connected to a district heating network.

The budget is EUR 2.2 million excluding value-added tax, so it can cover some 220 beneficiaries.

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