Renewables

Romania starts work on energy communities legislation

Romania starts work on energy communities legislation

Photo: Sebastian Burduja / Facebook

Published

May 21, 2024

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Published:

May 21, 2024

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Romanian citizens will have the right to obtain electricity at lower prices via energy communities, Minister of Energy Sebastian Burduja said. The ministry is assembling a working group to develop the legal framework.

All electricity consumers in Romania will get access to renewable energy, whether produced at home or within local energy communities, Minister of Energy Sebastian Burduja said. The initiative to adopt a law introducing the concept will lower power costs and the dependence on traditional energy sources as well as help reduce energy poverty and “open a new era of sustainability and energy autonomy for every Romanian,” he stated.

The ministry invited all interested stakeholders to participate in a working group that would develop the necessary legislation. The aim is to allow consumers to use renewable electricity that they produce at their place of consumption or as members of an energy community, at a lower cost.

For Romania to fully capitalize on its solar power potential, a stable and supportive framework is needed to stimulate innovation and investments, according to Burduja, who said the focus is on decarbonization, digitalization and decentralization or 3D. The photovoltaic market in Romania has entered a new period of accelerated growth, driven by the current energy security context, the need for a green transition and a favorable regulatory framework, the ministry pointed out.

Bucharest roofs alone have solar power potential far exceeding current needs

With an average of 1,900 to 2,400 hours of sunlight per year, Romania has a significant natural potential for developing solar power, the announcement reads. The ministry’s experts calculated that 680 MW could be installed on unused roofs in Bucharest alone and generate almost 835 GWh annually. It is equivalent to the electricity needs of 695,000 homes, it said.

Bucharest has much more photovoltaic potential than it could balance so that it matches demand

However, the numbers are far higher than the actual needs. Solar power is the strongest around mid-day and in the summer, while there’s none at night. More importantly, sunlight depends on clouds, so without proper balancing it can disturb network stability.

Markets throughout Europe and beyond enjoying a photovoltaic boom have been increasingly struck by episodes of zero or negative electricity prices. The same, to a lesser extent, happens with wind power. Currently all the signs point to saturation. Banks are tightening their lending conditions and investors are hesitating more without assurances from governments.

Association urges Romania to clarify its stance on prosumers’ future

In particular, the Association of Prosumers and Energy Communities in Romania (APCE) urged the government, transmission system operator Transelectrica and regulators to define their stance regarding prosumers. The category has become the backbone of the country’s energy transition, while municipal solar power plants are set to become the next big thing, especially with the emergence of energy communities.

APCE wants to know whether prosumers would be encouraged to invest in energy storage themselves

Even hydropower is being curtailed, APCE warned. Transelectrica is complaining that it has no storage while distribution operators say their networks are weak, that there is unpredictability in photovoltaic and wind production and that “an energy apocalypse is coming” because the population and industry have reduced their consumption, according to the organization.

The situation can improve if demand shifts toward daily solar power peaks, particularly with heat pumps, industrial production and electric vehicle charging. The other factor is the availability of energy storage facilities, primarily batteries and pumped storage hydropower capacity.

“It’s time for the Romanian state to tell us clearly if it still wants to have green energy injected into the network by prosumers or not, if it wants to reach the decarbonization targets imposed by the EU or not, if it wants to respect or not the obligations it agreed to so it can access enormous European funds of tens of billions of euros for renewable energy. Prosumers want to know if in the long term they will be encouraged to invest in storage themselves,” APCE said.

Half-billion-euro battery storage tender to be held in autumn

Separately, Burduja said half a billion euros in subsidies would be earmarked for beneficiaries to buy battery energy storage systems (BESS). The tender is planned to be launched in the autumn, he revealed. The minister said it would be covered from the Modernisation Fund.

The recent public call drew “fabulous” interest, while the one for the production of batteries and photovoltaic panels was weaker, Burduja pointed out.

Within two weeks, the national energy strategy, the first in many years, will be put up for public debate, he claimed and estimated that the government would approve it by decree in June. The earlier attempts got stuck in court or ahead of the cabinet’s decision, Burduja stressed.

The document will be of “a concept type,” according to the minister. He explained that security comes first, followed by competitiveness and green energy in the priorities list.

Of note, Burduja is running for the mayor of the capital Bucharest in the June 9 local elections.

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