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Finance and Incentives

Bulgaria: Prisoners Make Solar Water Heaters in Sofia

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 29, 2016
Bulgaria prison productionWhen it comes to renewable energies policy, Bulgaria is certainly not the most progressive country in Europe. So what GE Prisons Production (GE PP) did was an even more notable endeavour: The government-owned company established a so-called Green Plant on the premises of the Sofia Central Prison to manufacture solar water heaters. “I believe that the utilisation of solar energy is the future,” Yavor Dimitrov, Production Manager at GE PP said. “With many sunny days, climatic conditions in Bulgaria are favourable for this type of energy, which is why we decided to launch a production unit for solar thermal energy systems.” Before the solar business, GE PP had already been operating various production plants for window frames, furniture and clothing across the country. The photo shows a factory in Sofia for the manufacture of heat transfer coils, including two of the workers employed there.
Photo: GE PP 

USA: SHC Alliance Board to Represent all Technologies

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 11, 2016
Ed MurrayThe Solar Heating and Cooling Alliance within the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has had an extended board since February 2016. Five industry representatives declared their candidacy and were subsequently elected: Bill Guiney from Artic Solar, Bob Leckinger from FAFCO, Les Nelson from IAPMO and Victoria Hollick from Conserval will join Mick Humphreys from Apricus until the end of this year. “We need to have representatives across all technologies of SHC,” Ed Murray explains the decision to extend the board (see photo on the left). Murray has been chair of the SHC Alliance since November 2015 as well as CEO and President of California-based system supplier Aztec Solar. His vice chair is Adam Chrisman, Vice President of Manufacturing & Engineering at SunEarth. The outreach officer/treasurer is Eileen Prado, Executive Director of the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation.

Great Britain: Solar thermal proposed to exit the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 8, 2016
The previously reported rumours of significant changes for solar thermal support in the UK have now been confirmed by the government in a consultation proposal on 3 March. Already we knew the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in Northern Ireland is suspended to all new renewable technologies. We now also know for new solar thermal systems in the rest of the UK that RHI support is proposed to be removed in 2017. This is for both RHI schemes domestic and non-domestic. The details have been released under the consultation document ‘The Renewable Heat Incentive: A reformed and refocused scheme’ (see attached pdf). The industry can comment to this consultation before the 27th April 2016. Already on the same day the Solar Trade Association (STA) published a protest note titled: British manufacturers and social housing providers join call for urgent rethink.

Chile: New Tax Credits – Better Late than Never

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on March 2, 2016
BritecTwo years after the end of the tax credit scheme that was part of law 20.365, the Chilean parliament approved an extension of the support programme for solar thermal systems. Although it is good news for domestic solar system suppliers and installers, the approval process for the new incentive took one year longer than expected and many local companies are in critical condition after a prolonged downturn in the industry’s economic activity.
Photo: Britec

USA: Extended Tax Credits for Weak Solar Thermal Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 24, 2016
CalseiaAgainst all odds, the solar heating tax credits in the USA were extended again by 5 years. On 18 December 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed, including an extension of the so-called federal Investment Tax Credits up to 2021. Originally, the tax incentives were expected to end on 31 December 2016 after an eleven-year period since 2005, with one previous extension in 2008. They allow both residential and commercial investors of solar PV and solar thermal systems to deduct 30 % of the investment costs at the next tax declaration.
Photo: Calseia.org

Austria: Low Oil Price and Lack of Political Support Weakens Market

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 15, 2016
Heating with oilAccording to the ISOL Index by solrico and market data from the industry association Austria Solar, the solar thermal industry is heading into another year of declining markets. Low oil prices and corresponding campaigns of the fossil heating industry have had a substantial impact on this renewable technology. The banner shows the slogan “Heizen mit Öl – das zahlt sich aus” (The Benefits of Using Oil to Heat Your Home) on the website of the Austrian mineral oil industry, which offers grants of EUR 2,500 for the installation of a condensing oil boiler in a single-family building. Austria Solar has also criticised the reduction in the renewable budget of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund as well as the complicated incentive scheme rules throughout the states. The large-scale project market is what keeps the industry alive. 

Italy: Conto Termico 2.0 Refers to Expected Yield

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 12, 2016
The latest statistics of Conto Termico in Italy show that the national incentive scheme has still not been used enough: As of 1 January 2016, it had supported only 62 solar thermal plants for public buildings, while the private sector figure was 10,634. Assuming an average plant size of 7 m², as estimated by Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), this corresponds to a total subsidised collector area of 75,000 m² – a fairly low result over the 30 months of the scheme. The subsidy volume for solar thermal now amounts to about EUR 27.5 million, around half of the total incentives which have so far been distributed by Conto Termico. This is again a rather small figure compared to an originally planned budget of EUR 900 million. GSE, the state-owned administrator of Conto Termico, has therefore modified the scheme rules. 

Great Britain: Rumours of Closing down Renewable Heat Incentives

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 10, 2016
GreenshopSince the win at the general election May 2015, the UK Conservative Party has made significant changes to policies that were related to energy and environment protection. These include the currently in parliament discussed reduction of subsidies for wind and solar PV with the Feed-In tariffs and the reduction of the renewable quote for electricity suppliers, that are stipulated to source an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources. Also the climate change levy (CCL) exemption from renewable electricity schemes has been removed and the Green Deal and ‘zero carbon’ homes initiatives have been abandoned. These cuts were justified by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) who announced these would be “….Reducing energy bills for hard working British families and businesses and meeting climate goals in the most cost effective way ….. ” 
Photo: The Greenshop Group

Czech Republic: Residential Subsidy Scheme until 2021, More Eligible Technologies

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on February 8, 2016
PropulsAfter two shorter application periods, the Czech residential subsidy scheme Nova Zelena Usporam (New Green Savings) started into the third round on 22 October 2015 and is planned to run until the end of 2021. Whereas the first round had Czech Koruna (CZK) 1.9 billion allocated to the programme (April to December 2014) and the second one had to be content with CZK 0.9 billion (May to July 2015), there is now a total budget of CZK 27 billion, corresponding to CZK 4.4 billion per year. In absolute figures, it seems like an increase, but in view of the larger number of subsidised technologies, it is rather a budget reduction. Photovoltaic systems and connections to district heating and heat recovery are among the newly supported technologies. The good news for solar thermal system investors: There is no longer a requirement for an energy audit of the building before solar space heating is purchased. The first and second round required this audit in case of a combi system. 
Photo: Propuls

Portugal: New Government with Good Intentions but Lack of Action

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on January 30, 2016
Solrico Portugal Market AssessmentAfter a politically unstable last quarter of 2015, Portugal’s path for the next years seems to be finally set. The new socialist government, led by António Costa, took office by the end of November and brought back the old promise of supporting renewable energy sources. At least, this is what the government programme shows, the intention to encourage solar thermal use. The industry looks slightly more optimistic into 2016. According to the ISOL Index survey carried out in September 2015, more than a third of the participating 13 solar thermal system suppliers in Portugal expect a growing market, while 39 % expect a stable one this year. 
Source: solrico

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