In Belgium photovoltaic market is becoming very small

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by Enzo de Lucia

In Flanders, the level of support for commercial and ground-mounted segments is becoming too low to maintain a market. The level of green certificates has indeed been reduced by as much as 79%.

Since August 2012, the green certificate support level in Flanders has been drastically and unexpectedly reduced. The price for green certificates went from 210 €/MWh guaranteed for 20 years to 90 €/MWh for 10 years only. This 79% reduction of the level of support has generated an uncertain environment for the future green certificate price.

The Court of Brussels removed on 26 November 2013 the grid connection tariff for photovoltaic installations in the region of Flanders. The fee, on average 66 €/kW depending on the grid operator was introduced in 2012 by the federal energy regulator CREG. The PV system owners, who have already paid the fee, will receive a complete refund. The decision may give a positive signal on how grid connection tariffs should be implemented. In relation to this, a consultation procedure will be launched in 2014 to review the calculation methodology in a more transparent manner.

This decrease, together with the grid fee introduced in January 2013 for new and existing rooftop systems, has led to a reduction of the attractiveness of the net-metering scheme, resulting in a severe market decrease forcing many companies to shrink or to go bankrupt. The recent Court decision to revoke the grid injection fee, however, could give a new impetus to develop small systems in Flanders in the coming years. In Wallonia, the market for household systems is at very low levels at the moment. The injection fee and the current discussion about the introduction of a new grid fee in combination with the lower return of investment for the systems benefiting from Green Certificates has created a lot of uncertainty in the PV sector.

A grid injection fee was introduced in January 2013 for a period of 3 years. It applied to new and existing PV systems up to 10 kWp that are benefiting from the net-metering scheme. This fee, officially implemented to compensate for the loss in distribution fee supposedly caused by these small PV systems, has resulted in a 55% reduction of the level of the green certificates.

Following a complaint from PV Vlaanderen (the Flemish PV Association), Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in November 2013 that this grid fee was discriminating and that there was no legally-approved calculation methodology behind it. The uncertainty linked to this grid fee and its potential extension led to a significant market decrease in 2013 that should come to an end thanks to this revocation.

source: EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association), "Retrospective measures at national level and their impact on the photovoltaic sector", December 10, 2013 



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