By Poly Pantelides
INSTALLED photovoltaic systems are generating savings of some €80 million a year while current schemes could account to additional savings of €40 million a year, an energy regulator official said on Friday.
But a disappointing number of consumers are taking advantage of government schemes to install photovoltaic systems.
CERA’s Kypros Kyprianides was speaking at a news conference called to review a number government schemes on photovoltaics pushed through the energy ministry and CERA.
With photovoltaics consumers could be saving between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of what they would normally pay for electricity, and the investment would pay back for itself in a few years, Kyprianides said.
Industrial and commercial businesses have been slow to take up on photovoltaic schemes in their sector: no one has applied. The energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said they needed to simplify procedures with town planning and the environment department to encourage applications. As the scheme now stands, businesses have until mid-November to apply for self-production for a total of 10MW and a limit of 1MW per business.
But Lakkotrypis conceded there was a lack of cash flow, which may be discouraging even domestic users from investing the roughly €5,000 they would need to install a 3kW system.
“The absence of funding because of lack of liquidity in the market has concerned us and we are looking into ways to collaborate with lenders to be able to push the schemes,” he said.
There are two schemes designed to encourage households to use net metering, allowing them to produce electricity via small units. The system works by feeding energy into the grid with consumers drawing electricity as normal from the grid but only paying the difference between outflow and inflow.
Although this has the potential to bring electricity bills to almost nil, the schemes have been undersubscribed.
Out of 2,000 financially vulnerable households eligible to apply for a state subsidy of €900 per one installed kW, only 887 have lodged applications within the deadline. A second round of applications is now open up until October 18.
Even fewer applications have been lodged for a subsidy-free net metering system, open to all households, for a combined output of up to 9MW or 3,000 units. A total of 614 applications were lodged as of Wednesday with the applications closing in mid-November, Lakkotrypis said.
And even though hundreds of applications were lodged, so far only 10 systems have been connected to the grid and just 30 systems have been installed for the open applications.
Lakkotrypis said that things might pick up with the end of the summer period, when Cypriots tend to take it easy.
Asked how they could say they hoped to give the go-ahead to up to 60,000 net metering systems within three years, given the current numbers, Lakkotrypis said they were committed to green economy which has the potential to create jobs and generate income savings.
He suggested people still needed to become aware of the money-saving potential of installing net metering systems.
“We are carefully pushing ahead to implement a long-term government policy on photovoltaics,” Lakkotrypis said.
Visit www.cie.org.cy to find out more about available photovoltaic schemes.