Photovoltaic Greece & Renewable Energy Sources in Greece (N. 3851/2010)
Photovoltaic Greece – Kosmidis & Partners
Partnering international businesses in Greece
Law 3851/2010 on Accelerating the Development of Renewable Energy Sources to Deal with Climate Change – Photovoltaic Greece
The law’s national objectives for photovoltaic in Greece are:
Energy produced from renewable energy sources (RES) contributing up to 20% of gross final energy consumption, Electrical energy produced from renewable energy sources contributing at least 40% to gross electrical energy consumption, At least 20% of electricity generated from RES being used for heating and cooling by 2020, At least 10% being used for final energy consumption by transportation (biogas). Germany, by comparison, uses 20%. Licensing process A licence is still required for production of electricity from renewable energy sources. By amendment of the previous law, this licence is no longer issued by the Minister for the Economy, but directly by the RAE regulatory authority. This licence is still issued on the basis of the criteria set out in the law. These criteria, for example national security, public health, energy performance, project maturity, maturity of the technical installation, fulfilment of national law’s provisions on spatial planning. differ little from the previous criteria; there are merely a few additions.
The changes are detailed below:
- Determination by the RAE, in cooperation with the system and network operators, or in cooperation with the operator for the islands not connected to the integrated system, of the connection point and the manner and type of connection must be carried out within 20 days of submission of the application. This action must be taken before the licence is issued and is at the RAE’s discretion.
- The RAE examines whether the criteria are met, as well as the requirements for the licence to be issued, or the completeness of the file submitted, within 2 months of submission of the application. The submitted file is deemed to be complete if no additional documentation is requested in writing within 30 days.
- The decision will be published on the RAE’s website and sent to the Minister of the Environment. It must also be published in a daily newspaper. The minister has a period of 20 days for review. If there is a legal interest an appeal against the licence can be filed within 15 days of publication thereof on the RAE’s website. The Minister of the Environment must review this appeal within 20 days. After this deadline has expired abortively, the appeal is deemed to have been rejected.
- The decisions are moreover recorded in a register.
- The persons who ensure financing of the project must not be one and the same person as the licence owner. They must, however, be verified beforehand by the RAE in accordance with the above criteria with regard to the financing capacity and then their data included in the licence if the requirements are met.
- The licence is issued for a period of 25 years and can be extended by the same period. What is known as the installation permit must be obtained within 30 months from grant of the production licence, otherwise the production licence lapses. Applications for extensions in this respect are possible on certain conditions and before expiry of the specified deadline.
- In the event of the licence data changing, the licence must be adapted accordingly. To do this the licence holder makes a change application to the RAE. A decision will be made on this application within 60 days of submission. The decision is also published and entered in the register. There is in addition provision for cases not requiring a change application, such as if the installed capacity or the maximum generation capacity of the plant connected to the system or network increases by 10%. The exceptions governed by Section 3, para. 5 still include a duty of notification.
- After appropriate approval by the RAE, the licence owner may transfer its licence to other natural persons or legal entities if those criteria mentioned in Section 1 are fulfilled. The deadline for obtaining the installation permit will not be extended as a result!
- Obtaining the production licence is a prerequisite for also obtaining the other permits up to and including connection to the network. It does not exempt the licence owner from obtaining all other permits and licences for which the legislation makes provision.
- Exceptions to the licensing requirement Those project operators who intend to operate a photovoltaic plant with an output of up to one (1) MW are excluded from the obligation to obtain the abovementioned licence. This applies to all the arrays operated by one and the same project operator on a piece of real estate. In the latter case the payment is made on the basis of the total output from all arrays, consequently not every array on the same piece of real estate is calculated separately. For the latter category of plant of up to 1 MW, it is further stipulated that these plants (!) must not be sold before they are commissioned. As an exception these can, however, be sold to legal entities if the purchasing company’s capital stock is fully owned by the transferring company. Finally (after submission of application) system and network operator DESMIE must undertake all the requisite activities to connect the plant if refusal is not justified for a technical reason. On signature of contract with DESMIE the latter authority checks the applying company’s ownership rights to the real estate on which the plant is to be installed. In areas where energy generation is “saturated” or has limited possibilities this category of plant is preferred.
- There is no longer a requirement for the previous expert report on initial evaluation and appraisal of environmental compatibility.
- The general secretary of the region is responsible for issuing the installation licence. This must be issued within 15 days of completion of the review process. This review must, however, have been carried out within 30 days of the application.
- After the RAE has issued the production licence, the following licences and documents must still be obtained for the installation permit to be issued: a. A quotation for connection to the network b. Decision on environmental compatibility (EPO) c. A permit from the Forestry Department, if required, and any other permit required for the beneficial rights to the real estate.
- Within 4 months of the application being submitted DESMIE will issue the connection quotation, which becomes res judicata from the point at which either the EPO or the corresponding certificate regarding the environmental compatibility inspection being unnecessary are issued. The final connection quotation is valid for 4 years and is binding upon both DESMIE and the holder.
- From issue of the quotation the eligible party is obliged to take all other steps, such as issue of the installation permit and signature of the contract with DESMIE.
- A comprehensive file and an environmental study are to be submitted to the competent authority in order for the EPO to be granted.
- If the conditions are met the decision on environmental compatibility must be issued within 4 months from submission of a comprehensive file. The submitted file is deemed to be complete if no other documents are requested in writing within 20 days of submission of the documentation. This decision on environmental compatibility (environmental requirements) is valid for 10 years und can be extended twice by the same length of time if an application is submitted up to 6 months before the validity expires. Overall it must be stressed that the process for grant of an environmental compatibility decision (EPO) will henceforth be carried out within the scope of the installation permit award process, and consequently has been moved to a later point in time.
- The installation permit is also published and is still valid for 2 years. The installation permit can be extended once by the same length of time if there is compliance with the statutory requirements for this.
- The operating licence must be issued within an exclusive period of 20 days and is valid for 20 years in the case of PV plants. In this case, too, there is provision for extensions.
- If the plant is transferred the new owner enters into the rights and obligations of the old owner in respect of DESMIE. In this case the new owner will transfer the production licence by means of a corresponding RAE decision. Furthermore the competent authority shall decide on transfer of the operating licence.
- No installation permit and operating licence must be obtained for such PV plants as are excluded from obtaining a production licence. The environmental compatibility inspection, including grant of the decision according to Section 4, must be thorough. Only PV plants on open land having an output of up to 500 KW and plants that are erected on buildings are excepted. In these cases a corresponding certificate of exemption from this obligation must be obtained within 20 days from the region having jurisdiction. In addition to the installed capacity, whether a plot of land lies within the scope of NATURA 2000, or is at a distance of less than 150 m from another arable field for which a permit has also been issued, will be inspected as part of grant of this certificate.
- A register of the installation permits and operating licences issued will also be set up and kept by the Ministry of the Environment. This Register will also record production licences and possible exceptions to this obligation.
- in the connection contracts with DESMIE all plants which do not require a production licence according to the above regulations (special authorisations) will be set an exclusive deadline for connection. Compliance with this deadline is associated with imposition of payment of a guarantee or a contractual penalty due in the event of non-compliance with the deadline. A separate ministerial decision which is yet to be promulgated will regulate the specific requirements and penalties. Those contracts which had already been signed before this law came into force are excluded from this.
- The contract with the network operator for sale of electricity generated is valid for 20 years. An extension option is possible after both parties have agreed thereto in writing, as long as the production licence is still valid.
- The input tariffs for photovoltaic plants are as follows:
||Islands not connected to the integrated network
26. The tariffs are adjusted by 25% every year on the basis of the previous year’s consumer price index. Operators who had already concluded a connection contract at the time this law came into force and who are operating the plant can amend their contract and adopt the input tariff for February 2010 from the table above. In this case the abovementioned adjustments to the tariff will be carried out according to the arrangements made in this law. The rules of Art. 27A of law 3734/2009 will otherwise apply.
Other important changes and innovations:
According to the new draft law the offshore plants should be developed further and the new provisions therefore focus on these. For this reason a public tender process is also to be held for the offshore plants. The Minister for the Environment will issue the licence for these plants. The individual requirements for installing and operating an offshore plant will be stipulated in ministerial decisions yet to be promulgated. In addition the environmental compatibility procedure must also be carried out for these plants. Redistribution of the special RES levy (3%) represents an important change too. According to this, a considerable proportion of receipts from this levy (1/3) will be channelled on the one hand to local households in the community within which operation of the project plants has been authorised and partly to the municipality itself. The municipalities in which the installation of parks has been authorised ought basically, therefore, to incur lower electricity bills. The remaining receipts from the RES levy are supposed to be channelled to the Special (“Green”) Fund for implementation of regulatory and environmental plans. Within the scope of this legislation special importance is being attached to the aspects of development of the communal economy, environmental protection and social support. Plant operators are exempt from payment of this levy. Investment in and installation of a plant should henceforth be possible on areas of land previously classed as agricultural land with a high level of agricultural use, In these cases the licence will only be granted if not more than 1% of these areas in the respective prefecture are used to operate plants of this type. Furthermore it is not necessary to obtain a building permit for installation of a PV plant, although a permit to carry out small-scale activities, known as the eggrisi ergasion domisis mikris klimakas, is necessary (confirmation). Separate regulations are also included for installation of photovoltaics on roofs.
In conclusion it can therefore be established that the following positive changes have been stipulated in this law:
Direct award of licences by the RAE, as well as the determination of binding and shorter deadlines for the public administration.. Reduction in the bureaucratic process from 36-60 months to 8-10 months, the formation of an independent authority linked to the Environment Ministry for promoting investment from RES in the form of a “one-stop shop”. The award of licences will be separated from the process for imposing environmental requirements and will henceforth only occur as part of the second stage. The RAE must issue the production licence within two months of submission of application. Plants with a limited output capacity are excluded. The previous environmental procedure which consisted of two stages, has been standardised as one procedure.