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Greece Plans Tax for Existing Renewable Energy Plants

Greece is planning to approve a tax on the revenue of existing renewable energy plants to reduce a deficit created by subsidy payments to the industry.

The government included a tax reducing the revenue for all photovoltaic plants by 25 percent to 30 percent in legislation set for a vote tonight in the parliament in Athens, the energy ministry said. Other technologies will pay a 10 percent tax. An earlier draft called for up to 35 percent from solar alone.

Greece, which has spent about 370 million euros ($473 million) on clean energy subsidies, is joining Spain, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria in raising money from renewables plants already in operation. Solar plants with about 700 megawatts were completed in Greece this year, almost doubling installed capacity to a total of 1,300 megawatts.

“This very sudden tax will create cash flow problems for most solar plants and threatens investments planned for 2013,” Stelios Spsomas, policy adviser for lobby group Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, said by phone today.

Solar plants with more than 10 kilowatts, or almost all non-residential ones, will be affected for the next two years. Those connected to the grid from 2007 to 2011 will see their revenue cut by 25 percent. The ones connected from this year until August will be slashed by 30 percent, and projects permitted after January by 27 percent, according to the draft.

In addition, the latter will need to be connected by mid-March 2013 to maintain their tariffs, much earlier than previously planned. No new permits are granted since August, Spsomas said.

Highest Tariffs

Greece, whose financial crisis began in 2009, has had the European Union’s highest feed-in tariffs for solar power since then. These premium rates have led to a surge in installations that can’t be sustained, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

All solar parks connected after March 2013 will receive 164 euros a megawatt hour, if larger than 100 kilowatts, or 205 euros if bigger.

“PV growth in Greece subsidized with costs which are not effectively passed onto customers has been the Minotaur of the Greek economy rather than the bull,” Martin Simonek, solar energy analyst for BNEF, said by e-mail. “It had to be killed at some point and the bigger it got, the more drastic measures were anticipated.”

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