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Romania preps auction scheme for large-scale solar, renewables

The scheme is expected to be issued within 18 months. According to law firm Schoenherr Romania, there is a growing appetite for large-scale solar projects in the country among investors.

Solar PV, which accounts for a meager 7% of Romania’s electricity production, is expected to grow more than other energy sources. According to the country’s National energy and climate plan (NECP), solar PV will expand from 1,362 MW currently to 5,054 MW by 2030. The country needs to install a total 6 GW of new wind power and solar PV capacities over the next 10 years.

“Currently, there is no support scheme for new-build projects, but Romania is working towards implementing a new mechanism,” Monica Cojocaru, partner at Schoenherr Romania, told pv magazine. “We have noticed growing interest in renewable energy in the market and among our clients in recent months.”

George Niculescu, state secretary at the Ministry of Energy, said that the contract for difference (CfD) mechanism should come into force in no more than two years.

“The Ministry aims for an accelerated schedule which would make the new support scheme possible in 16 to 18 months,” he said during an event organized last week by Schoenherr Romania, adding that the financing guidelines to access the EU Modernisation Fund could be ready by December.

The Employers’ Organization of Renewable Energy Producers in Romania (Patres) is advocating for extensive reforms of the local energy markets and a bigger role of prosumers.

“Romania has a very high electricity balancing cost, one of the highest in Europe. The country needs to review its policy measures to foster investments,” Patres Vice President Martin Moise told pv magazine, noting that the country was facing an energy crisis at the moment, with an increasing reliance on imports.

Issues for PV installations are also related to recent changes in legislation for agricultural land. “Things got more complicated than they used to be during Romania’s first wave of renewable investments,” Simona Chirică, partner at Schoenherr Romania, commented. “Besides the legal matters that are usually analyzed when securing the land needed for developing renewable energy projects (which are quite numerous), a series of matters set forth by more recent legislative changes also need to be carefully considered, such as the new agriculture land sale procedure introduced last year, or the need to obtain a soil quality certificate.”

Schoenherr launched its annual publication “Renew Romania” last week, underscored the immediate steps country needed to take: transposing RED II, clearing the way for PPAs, stepping up the introduction of the CfD support mechanism, adopting the new electricity law and the offshore wind law, while easing access to EU funding.

Romania reached its 2020 targets ahead of time thanks to the support scheme implemented from 2008 to 2011. According to the report, the positive result “encouraged” the Romanian government’s passivity, as Bucharest concentrated on containing the effects of the support scheme on energy bills.

Romania’s current electricity production comes mostly from hydropower (34%), coal (21%) and wind (15%).