Romania: Solar Heating and Cooling in its political Infancy

Romania is a good example for a country that is still only beginning to establish a policy for solar heating and cooling – not merely on the side of the government, but also on the side of the industry and its suppliers. As of 21 December 2009, there has not yet been a date announced for the first draft of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP).

Responsible for devising the plan are the Ministry for Economy and the Romanian Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE) – but there is also the newly created renewable energy association called SunE, which tries to have a say in the drafting the country's NREAP.

“We have tried to gather stakeholders from all renewable technology sectors, such as solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, small hydro and biomass, in order to set up an action plan, but it has not yet been done”, Manuela Draghicescu, Executive Manager and Interim General Secretary of SunE, remarked at an association meeting in Brussels, organised by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) at the beginning of December 2009. To date, SunE consists of 30 members. It achieved formal approval in January of 2009.

SunE maintains close contact with the ministry of Economy, ANRE and the Agency for Energy Conservation (ARCE). “We have had a lot of talks with the representative of the energy department within the Romanian Ministry of Economy. He has so far been a special guest at many of our events,” says Draghicescu. After the recent presidential election, governmental bodies have been subject to restructuring efforts: A new Energy Ministry was founded on the 21st of December, with the respective minister having led the Ministry of Economy beforehand. ARCE is now a subsidiary of the National Authority of Energy Regulatory (ANRE).

What has already happened in the country in terms of renewable energy policy? The first governmental decision to approve a national strategy for renewable energy use in the country (No. 1535/2003) only covered the electricity market.

The first decision to include the creation of a subsidy scheme for renewable heating technology was the one from October 2008, still introduced by the former government. The name of the programme: “programme to change or fill the classical heating systems in buildings with new heating systems including one of the following technologies: solar thermal, photovoltaics, geothermal, wind energy or other renewable energy sources”. Its objective is to improve the quality of air, water and soil.

Unfortunately, the newly elected Romanian government postponed the aforementioned plans at the beginning of 2009, which moved the programme's actual launch to July. According to a press release of the Authority for the Environment (Administratia Fondului pentru Mediu) (AFM) published in late November, there had already been three application rounds between July and November, each with different requirements. The first one took place between the 15th of July and the 14th of August, during which the government had to review a total of 151 projects submitted. It approved 91 of these projects, totalling EUR 19 million. Since the programme itself is open for all renewable technologies, but the press release did not differentiate between them, it is not clear how many projects included solar thermal technology.

More information:
Ministry for Economy: http://www.minind.ro/
ANRE National Authority of Energy Regulation: www.anre.ro/
Renewable Energy Association SunE: www.sune.ro
Agency for Energy Conservation (ARCE): www.arceonline.ro
Authority for the Environment (AFM): http://www.afm.ro/

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