Access to the grid: A precondition for the solar photovoltaic market to take-off

Brussels, 13th September 2007 - The 3rd EPIA Round-table in a cycle of 7 debates, running until December 2007, raised the issue of access to the grid for photovoltaic (PV) applications.

The 3rd EPIA Round-table in a cycle of 7 debates, running until December 2007, raised the issue of access to the grid for photovoltaic (PV) applications. Although existing EU legislation gives priority access to the grid for renewable energies, Germany is the only Member State that provides effective grid connection. The debate's participants emphasised the need for clarification of the grid-access rules and harmonisation of grid-connection rules in the Commissions upcoming proposal.

"With no effective grid access, the feed-in tariff to promote the use of renewable electricity remains useless" said Günther Cramer, EPIA Director and CEO of the leading inverters manufacturer SMA Technologies AG. Today, almost 20 European countries have put a feed-in tariff scheme in place, however, only the German market has actually taken off. The European photovoltaic market should not rely on the performance of one single country. It is vital that a diversification of markets starts to take place.

Currently, 4 major factors prevent rapid connection of PV systems to the electricity network:

1. Administrative procedures are slow: in countries such as Greece, Italy, France or Spain, the time required to connect a system to the grid ranges from 4 months in lucky cases to over 2 years!

2. There is no harmonised and specific code for grid-connection of PV systems;

3. The cost for connections is not transparent and is not proportional to the size of systems;

4. Network operators often arbitrarily slow down the connection process;

Current legislation (Directive EC/2001/77) obliges Member States to ensure that access to the grid is granted to renewable electricity producers. The directive also allows the Member States to grant priority access to the grid for electricity from renewable energy sources. This has, however, not been effectively implemented.

EPIA is therefore urging the Commission to propose clarifications of grid-access rules, cost distribution and transmission fees in its future framework directive on renewable energy sources, due to be presented in December. In addition, the Commission should also include the harmonisation of grid-connection rules in its legislative agenda.

Finally, EPIA believes that the forthcoming legislation on the liberalisation of electricity markets (3rd Energy Liberalisation Package) presents an opportunity to improve the current situation by calling for effective ownership unbundling of transmission and distribution system operators. This will ensure that network operators guarantee fair grid access conditions for renewable electricity producers.

About the European Photovoltaic Industry Association:

With 125 Members drawn from across the entire solar electricity sector, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association represents over 95% of the European photovoltaic industry. EPIA represents the whole value-chain of the photovoltaic industry from silicon producers, cells and module manufacturers to system providers. EPIA's mission is to deliver a distinct and valuable service driven from the strength of a single European photovoltaic voice.

For more information:
Marie Latour
Communication officer
Tel.: + 32 2 400 10 13

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