Photovoltaics: will the rules for domestic energy billing change?

Photovoltaics

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Photovoltaics and the related legal regulations have been in the centre of interest of potential consumers for a long time. Although two draft amendments to the RES Act are underway, there are still no concrete solutions to allay the fears of prosumers producing energy in backyard solar power plants. However, it is worth remembering that consumers who will connect their new installations to the distribution network before the end of this year will be able to benefit from the existing billing rules.

The proposed draft amendments to the RES Act are connected with two different ideas concerning the system of discounts in settling energy from photovoltaics. The draft prepared by the Ministry of Climate and Environment shows that the current settlement system in the 1:0.8 model will cease to apply and will be replaced by the sale of surplus produced energy to the grid at the average market price. In turn, the second parliamentary draft by former Deputy Prime Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz assumes that surpluses will be accounted for in the 1:1 model. This solution will result in charging full network fees, from which prosumers have been exempted so far.

Will photovoltaics suffer due to new regulations?

For the time being, it is uncertain which of the drafts will be adopted. However, according to a Kantar Public survey commissioned by the Institute of Environmental Economics (Instytut Ekonomii Środowiska) and the Polish Smog Alarm (Polski Alarm Smogowy), as many as 73% of people negatively assess the proposed changes to the billing system. The Association of the Photovoltaic Industry POLSKA PV (Stowarzyszenie Branży Fotowoltaicznej POLSKA PV) is also critical of the projects, stressing that many prosumers doubt whether the domestic photovoltaic installation will still be profitable.

According to Jakub Jadziewicz, board member of Alians OZE, even if the proposed changes are implemented, photovoltaics will still be an environmentally and financially attractive investment. He also points out that prosumers who decide to make and connect the installation to the distribution grid by the end of December 2021 will be able to settle under the existing rules. The right to the old system of discounts is an acquired right for 15 years, which means that one should not be afraid of sudden changes in the billing system.

Poles want to invest in RES

Interest in renewable energy sources is still at a high level and, according to market analysts, this trend will continue along with an increase in demand for energy and increases in electricity prices. The willingness to invest in RES is evidenced by the record fast exhaustion of funds from the My Electricity (Moj Prad) 3.0 programme and, according to the RES Alliance study “RES Index – Photovoltaics in the eyes of Poles” (“OZE Index – Fotowoltaika oczami Polaków”), every fourth investor plans to expand the already operating domestic photovoltaic installation.

As Jakub Jadziewicz explains, the demand for photovoltaics will continue to grow, as rising electricity prices will force customers to look for alternative ways of obtaining energy. Additionally, the interest in RES solutions is influenced by the high ecological awareness of Poles as well as the EU climate policy. All this makes investments in renewable energy sources an important, even inseparable element of life.

Investments in photovoltaics will continue to be supported by government and local government subsidy programmes, including the next edition of the My Electricity programme, which will appear in 2022. In the future, funds will also be launched to encourage Poles to use energy storage solutions or introduce smart energy management systems at home.

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