Distribution system operator Elektrodistribucija Srbije will draft new rules over the coming months to enable a fast-track procedure for connecting household rooftop solar systems to the grid. This will allow Serbian citizens to become prosumers – producers of electricity for self-consumption, according to a panel titled “Solar for citizens – democratization of energy or how to get your own solar power plant?” which was held as part of the First Big Conference on Solar Energy in Serbia.
The First Big Conference on Solar Energy in Serbia, organized by Balkan Green Energy News, took place in Belgrade on April 14, and was followed online by more than 1,000 people. The possibility for private individuals and businesses to become prosumers is being introduced by a law on renewable energy sources, whose adoption is expected in the coming days.
Prosumers will export their surplus electricity into the grid, and will be able to use it when they need it
Citizens who decide to become prosumers will be entitled to net metering, a mechanism under which they are billed for the difference between the amount of electricity they produce and the amount they consume. When output from a prosumer’s solar panels exceeds self-consumption needs, the surplus is added to the distribution network, which is operated by distribution system operator Elektrodistribucija Srbije, and when output is lower than the prosumer’s needs, then electricity is drawn from the grid. A prosumer can draw both electricity from own production and electricity provided by state power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) as a supplier.
The purpose of introducing prosumers is to enable citizens to cover their own needs only
Net consumption is calculated once a year, with the prosumer paying for the difference between the amount of electricity fed into the grid and the amount drawn from the grid. If a prosumer’s output exceeds consumption, however, the prosumer does not get any compensation given that the purpose of introducing prosumers is not for citizens to make money in this way, but to cover their own electricity consumption, according to Dejan Stojadinović, a consultant who moderated the panel. It is therefore very important to determine the right capacity of a photovoltaic system, according to him.
Many will take advantage of the fast-track procedure and become prosumers
Dušan Vukotić, specialist at the operation directorate of Elektrodistribucija Srbije
The advantage of net metering, according to Miodrag Vuković, owner of solar energy solutions provider Conseko, is that it allows using the distribution system as energy storage, billing for electricity fed into the grid at the same price as electricity drawn from the network, and installing less complex photovoltaic systems, which makes the investment less costly.
Talking about the capacities of rooftop solar power plants, he said that a household that consumes 600 kWh a month can produce 300 kWh a month with a 3 kW system, which costs about EUR 4,400. This capacity does not allow prosumers to take advantage of net metering, for example to produce more energy in summer months and consume it in winter, so systems with a capacity of between 6 kW and 10.8 kW are a better choice. An 8 kW system costs some EUR 7,000.
Elektrodistribucija Srbije: the new rules will incorporate best European practices
Dušan Vukotić, a specialist at the operation directorate of Elektrodistribucija Srbije, said that the grid now works both ways – it not only supplies electricity to consumers, but also takes it from them.
After the law on renewable energy sources and changes to the Energy Law are passed, Elektrodistribucija Srbije will have the obligation to adopt a fast-track procedure for connecting facilities of up to 10.8 kW. This fast-track procedure will require Elektrodistribucija Srbije to respond to a citizen’s application within 30 days. The company is also preparing new rules for the operation of the distribution system.
The rules, according to Vukotić, should be defined very soon, within a few months, incorporating the best practices from European countries.
He also said he believes that many people will take advantage of the fast-track procedure and install rooftop solar systems. However, he does not think that they will go for the maximum capacity immediately, but will rather start with smaller capacities, of a few kW.
DDOR Osiguranje: full insurance for solar panels at EUR 5
To support citizens in becoming prosumers, insurer DDOR Osiguranje is offering insurance for rooftop solar systems. Marko Putnik, director of DDOR Osiguranje’s brand positioning and PR department, said the offer is very competitive since it only takes EUR 5 a month to insure a EUR 5,000 solar system against breakdown, theft and fire. If theft is left out, the amount is 30% lower.
“DDOR cooperates with Fintel, leader in wind farm construction in Serbia, which is investing in a hybrid power plant and developing services that can support green energy. Education is what matters in this sector, as well as in the insurance sector,” said Putnik.
Strong interest among citizens to become prosumers
Ana Džokić of energy cooperative Elektropionir
To remind those present of what the procedure for becoming a prosumer was like before the adoption of the new rules, Ana Džokić from energy cooperative Elektropionir described her own excruciating experience. She has been trying to become a prosumer since 2016, but without success. In the meantime, she and a few like-minded people have founded an energy cooperative, but to no avail.
“The reasons for setting up a cooperative are the democratization of energy production, obstacles we have faced, and people’s interest in my failed attempt to become a prosumer. We have realized that there is a strong interest among the public,” she said.
Bringing the concept of prosumers closer to people is of vital importance for the success of this idea, which is the cornerstone of energy democratization
The cooperative has organized its first seminar on prosumers for ordinary citizens, which showed that there is a strong interest among citizens as well as the need to learn more about what it means to be a prosumer.
Promoting this concept and bringing it closer to people is of vital importance for the success of this idea, which is the cornerstone of energy democratization – the possibility for citizens to produce, consume, store, and sell their own energy, according to Jasmina Trhulj, head of electricity at the Energy Community.
Energy democratization, she added, is at the core of the EU’s latest energy package, called Clean Energy for All Europeans. Energy Community contracting parties are changing their regulations to bring them into in line with this package even though they have no obligation to do so, and this is the direction in which Serbia’s new energy laws are going as well.
Trhulj said that the Energy Community Secretariat believes these solutions are good and hopes that they will be implemented in practice.