Greece’s policy reform fever: Storage, net metering and sub-500 kW solar

Greece’s energy sector has been experiencing an ongoing policy reform fever in the last two years that is now extending to energy storage, net metering and small solar farms. The reforms will boost the country’s energy transition.

November 12, 2021

The Greek government has completed its wide-ranging policy framework that is expected to reshape the energy sector and also benefit energy storage projects. The bill is now headed to parliament.

Earlier this month, Greek environment and energy minister Kostas Skrekas presented the framework to cabinet ministers.

The reform includes policies that target three categories of storage projects: stand-alone energy storage; combined storage with renewable power systems; and storage projects installed by Greece’s electricity consumers.

Most crucially, storage projects installed alongside renewable energy systems that do not charge from the electricity network will be eligible to participate in the county’s renewable energy tenders.

However, combined storage and renewables systems that are able to charge using the network won’t be able to participate in the tenders.

Similar sub-categories will also be set for storage projects installed by electricity consumers (e.g net metered consumers that also install on-site batteries). Specifically, the forthcoming policy framework will differentiate between behind-the-meter and front-of-the-meter storage systems. Systems that do not inject power in the network will not need a license.

Upon approval of the bill by Greece’s parliament, the country is expected to run its first energy tenders in the beginning of next year. Greece had initially said it would run energy tenders for 700 MW of energy storage by the end of 2021, but the tenders are now expected to take place in the first quarter of 2022.

Greece’s upcoming bill

The energy storage policy framework will comprise part of the country’s upcoming environmental bill, which is the second major legislative effort of the current government since taking office in July 2019.

The first major bill passed in July 2020, speeding the renewables licensing process and introducing an electric vehicles policy.

The forthcoming bill will further improve the licensing process for renewable energy investment, aiming to make it completely digital.

The new licensing process will make it possible for a large-scale project to become fully licensed within just 14 months, from about the 5 years time that it takes now, the environment ministry said. This will unleash about 12 GW of new renewable energy capacity, corresponding to €10 billion of investment, it added.

The bill will also comprise frameworks for the country’s offshore wind and circular economy sectors and introduce carbon budgets intended to tackle emissions in all major parts of the economy.

Net metering systems

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Meanwhile, earlier in autumn Greece introduced policies boosting the country’s net metering and small scale solar PV sectors.

Specifically, the country increased the upper limit for net metering installations in the mainland grid from 1 MW to 3 MW.

The policy change concerns consumers in the mainland as well as on the island of Crete, given that Crete linked to the mainland electricity system in May.

Equally significant though was a new measure introduced in autumn to phase out a licensing requirement concerning net metering systems of up to 50 kW.

Until recently these systems needed a connection agreement from the country’s distribution network, which was often time-consuming. The requirement for such an agreement has now been phased out. Instead, consumers need to only make an application with the distribution network, which in turn is obliged to reply with 15 days.

The new net metering policy also allows the installation of net metered systems in congested parts of the network as long as these systems do not inject electricity into the grid.

The timing of a net metering investment is now fully defined, with both the investor and the country’s institutions having to comply with specific timelines.

Stelios Psomas, policy advisor at the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO), told pv magazine that the new net metering policy is expected to boost investment in this sub-sector given that Greece’s distribution network did not always process net metering applications in a timely manner.

Sub-500 kW solar sector

The policy change concerning ground mounted solar farms up to 500 kW of capacity is also important given this sub-sector added about 1 GW of new installations last year.

Until December last year, projects under 500 kW were supported by feed-in tariffs (FITs), but starting in 2021, the government required such systems to compete in the nation’s renewables tenders. The government recently reversed part of that decision, however, providing another two years of stable remuneration support to those sub-500 kW investors who do not own more than one solar park supported by FITs.

Therefore, investors who only own one sub-500 kW PV farm can still apply for FIT remuneration until the end of 2022.

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