Feed-in tariffs proliferate in 2008


Paris, France — (METERING.COM) — May 22, 2009 – By early 2009, at least 45 countries and 18 states/provinces/territories around the world had feed-in tariffs to promote renewable power generation, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century’s (REN21) newly released 2009 global status report.

In 2008/early 2009 feed-in tariffs were adopted at the national level in at least five countries for the first time, including Kenya, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, and Ukraine. Following its former feed-in policies in the 1990s, India also adopted new feed-in tariffs for solar PV and solar thermal power. Norway followed its 1990s feed-in tariff with a new tariff for hydro, wind, and biomass power. Several more countries were engaged in developing feed-in policies, including Egypt, Israel, Japan (at least for distributed solar PV), Nigeria, and the United Kingdom.

At the state/provincial level, at least 10 jurisdictions adopted new feed-in tariffs, including at least six Indian states, Queensland in Australia, California in the U.S., and Ontario in Canada. A new trend in 2008 was serious consideration of feed-in tariffs by several U.S. states, in many cases to supplement existing renewable portfolio standards.

Several countries also revised or supplemented their feed-in laws, including Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey. Common revisions included extending feed-in periods, modifying tariff levels, adjusting annual percentage decreases in tariffs, establishing or removing annual program capacity caps, adding eligibility for (distributed) micro-generation, and modifying administrative procedures. Some examples: Bulgaria increased the feed-in period from 12 to 25 years for solar PV. Spain reduced tariffs for solar PV because its 2010 target was already achieved, set 10 percent annual tariffs reductions, and also instituted a 500 MW solar PV capacity cap for both 2009 and 2010. Portugal added a feed-in tariff for micro-generation (maximum capacity 5.75 kW). Germany instituted 8–10 percent annual tariff reductions for solar PV but also increased tariffs for both onshore and offshore wind power. Greece revised solar PV tariffs (stabilized through 2010/2012), eliminated an unofficial capacity cap, and instituted competitive bidding for large scale solar PV plants greater than 10 MW. France added a new solar PV tariff for commercial buildings. Ireland increased tariffs for micro-generators and provided government grants. Switzerland instituted an entirely new feed-in tariff regime.

The report says that renewable energy markets grew robustly in 2008. Among new renewables (excluding large hydropower), wind power was the largest addition to renewable energy capacity, growing by 29 percent to reach 121 GW, and more than double the 48 GW that existed in 2004.

However, grid connected solar photovoltaics (PV) continued to be the fastest growing power generation technology, with a 70 percent increase in existing capacity to 13 GW in 2008 and a six-fold increase in global capacity since 2004. Spain is now the clear market leader in this technology, with 2.6 GW of new capacity installed, representing half of global installations and a five-fold increase over the 550 MW added in 2007. This surpasses former PV leader Germany, which installed 1.5 GW in 2008, while other leading markets in 2008 were the United States (310 MW), South Korea (200–270 MW), Japan (240 MW), and Italy (200–300 MW).

Among the notable trends in solar PV during 2008 was the growing attention to building-integrated PV (BIPV), which is a small but fast-growing segment of some markets, with more than 25 MW installed in Europe. Others included the growth of thin-film solar PV technologies and the emergence of utility-scale solar PV plants (larger than 200 kW).

“Although the future is unclear, there is much in the report for optimism,” writes REN21 chairman Mohamed El-Ashry, in the foreword. “The recent growth of the sector has surpassed all predictions, even those made by the industry itself. But we must remember that we still remain far from the political pledge made in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to substantially increase the share of renewables in the global energy mix.”