By Elias Hazou
THE CABINET IS today likely to green-light a government-funded programme subsidising net-metering for residences – a policy aimed at generating savings from electricity consumption, a big drain on households’ disposable income.
Commerce minister Giorgos Lakkoktrypis will be issuing a decree to credit the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) fund with at least some €5m. The fund’s budget will be submitted to parliament for approval at a later date.
The cash will be used to subsidise – to the tune of around 50 per cent – the installation of small photovoltaic (PV) systems in households.
The grants will be given based on income criteria, with eligible households selected from a list of financially vulnerable groups that has been drawn up by the ministries of commerce and labour and the energy regulator.
Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities, such as wind, solar power or home fuel cells.
“Net,” in this context, is used in the sense of meaning “what remains after deductions” — in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate.
The programme is intended to cater to some 2,000 households with PV systems of a maximum output of 3 kilowatts, for a combined output of 6 megawatts.
The cost of installing a typical PV system of up to 3kW is anywhere from €4,500 to €5,000.
The PVs will be connected to the grid of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), and the ‘credit’ per household will be calculated every two months.
Electricity consumption is offset by the electricity generated by PV system into the grid, with the household being billed for the difference. In addition to bringing down the electric bill, a positive side-effect is the lower consumption bracket and hence lower rates for electricity usage.
Both this scheme and a subsequent one – covering some 3,000 more households, though without a subsidy – have the blessing of the energy regulator.
Under a law passed last year, disbursements from the RES fund must have the approval of the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA).
CERA chairman George Shammas said the electricity grid should easily be able to accommodate an extra 6MW, and did not foresee any technical issues.
A debate in parliament last October concluded that the net metering is vital in order to reduce fuel poverty and promote economic development in the country. However, the deepening economic crisis seems to have triggered large-scale application of the mechanism as a way to boost economic activity. Jobs in the design and construction of the PV projects are also expected to be created.