Romania`s solar power sector

EnergyTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 1/2024 • 19.03.2024

Romania has established ambitious targets in the field of renewable energy, intending to further raise its proportion in the overall energy mix in the following years. The importance of solar power is constantly growing, especially in the country`s southern regions, where most favorable conditions for PV production exist. Although Romania is joining the European photovoltaic revolution relatively late, its commitment to renewable energy puts it in a prime position to benefit from the EU`s rapidly increasing grid investments.

The country`s grid is aging much like in many other countries, but the local regulations are also catching up quickly. International investors are realizing the potential Romania has, and there is sufficient political commitment to support it.

On March 4 this year, the total production of Romania`s deployed solar power plants approached 6,5 GW, leading to a net export of electricity. This was the first time the plants` output exceeded 1 GW, local sources reported. Based on estimates from the Romanian Photovoltaic Industry Association (RPIA), the country`s aggregate photovoltaic capacity can reach 11,2 GW by 2030.

During the COP28 climate summit in Dubai in December 2023, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis pledged to increase the country`s PV generation capacity to at least more than 8 GW by 2030, which would mark a six-fold increase on the 1,39 GW in 2020. Romania reached 2,9 GW of solar power by the end of 2023 and became the 118th country in the group of tropical countries known as the International Solar Alliance.


Government support for renewables

Supportive government policies are likely to drive the market growth, as Romania develops numerous policies to support the renewable energy sector, especially solar energy. These policies help meet the obligations set by the EU in terms of greenhouse gas emissions through its legislative package.

In August 2023, Romania launched its first auction for a Contracts-for-Difference (CfD) support scheme, which tenders 2 GW of solar PV and wind energy capacity projects, backed by 15-year power purchase agreements (PPAs), market researchers point out.

The Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism in Romania launched a Modernization Fund program which provides funding for improvements in energy efficiency, modernization of energy systems, and the transition to coal-dependent regions.

Aside from the programs for the promotion of renewable energy sources (RES) funded by the Environment Fund, the promotion of renewables continues through green certificates, the International Trade Administration reports.

The Romanian National Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE) has established a mandatory annual quota for the purchase of green certificates. In addition, ANRE has developed a regulatory framework to facilitate the marketing of energy produced in renewable power plants with an installed electric power of up to 400 kW per place of consumption belonging to consumers and delivered in the electricity network to electricity suppliers with whom they have concluded contracts for the supply of electricity.


Development of the PV sector

Romania was a significant participant in the European and the global solar power sector in the 1970s and 1980s, installing around 800 000 sq. m of subpar solar collectors, which placed the nation third globally in terms of total surface area of PV cells. The installation of a 30 kW solar panel on the roof of the Politehnica University of Bucharest, which can generate 60 MWh of power annually, was one of the most significant solar initiatives in the past.

The Singureni solar park, finished in December 2010, and the Scornicesti PV plant, finished in December 2011, are the country`s first two industrial-scale solar power facilities. Each of them has 1 MW capacity.

With a total investment of EUR 10 million, a 1,1 MW solar plant was installed on a wind farm terrain in 2023 to create the first hybrid facility with a combined capacity of 7,25 MW.

In 2023 a total of 20 solar projects were operational or planned, the largest among them being Ucea de Sus, Sebis, Livada, Izvoarele, Targu Carbunesti, Bucsani, Pilu-Graniceri, etc. The Ratesti PV plant, commissioned with 154,7 MW in peak capacity late last year, is the largest in the country.

Timisoara is among the many municipalities pioneering solar power projects for local needs. The city is building a 5,6 MW PV plant, strategically placed close to the Freidorf industrial zone, which is expected to produce about 7,8 GWh per year.

 

Current state

Today Romania follows its path to become a major player in the EU renewables sector. SolarPower Europe`s latest European Union market outlook report ranked the country among top ten growth markets for the first time, alongside Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The Romanian government increased the ambition of the proposed National Energy and Climate Plan that it brought to the COP towards the end of 2023. The revised plan calls for 36% of Romania`s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030, including 8,3 GW of solar and 7,6 GW of wind power, which is even more than the amount allotted by the European Commission. By 2032, Bucharest plans to completely phase out coal use.

On March 6 this year, in accordance with the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the European Commission has approved a EUR 3 billion Romanian program to support installations that generate power from onshore wind and solar photovoltaic, assisting in the country`s transition towards a net-zero economy. The plan was authorized in accordance with the State aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework, which supports initiatives in industries that are essential to hastening the shift to a greener economy and lowering reliance on fossil fuels.

Preparing its latest EU market outlook for the development of the Union`s solar power sector till 2027, SolarPower Europe claims that Eastern Europe is a region that has demonstrated exceptional performance during the last couple of years. In 2023, Romania witnessed a record-breaking year for solar, adding over 1 GW of new capacity through distributed generation and utility-scale projects, the sector association informs. “This marked a 308% increase compared to the capacity deployed in 2022, establishing solar PV as the fastest-growing power source in the country. By the end of 2023, the cumulative PV capacity, encompassing distributed and utility-scale installations, reached 2,85 GW, generating over 2,5 TWh, contributing approximately 5% to the total electricity production”, SolarPower Europe`s report also says.

Experts point out that, the impressive current developments in the Romanian PV market were mostly driven by the distributed generation segment. The sector is currently experiencing a new boom phase that is being driven by favorable permitting frameworks, the green transition, and the prevailing energy security context. The forecast for photovoltaics in Romania, according to SolarPower Europe, is positive despite obstacles such as administrative hurdles, market fragmentation, ambiguous regulations, and grid integration problems. Additionally, new business models are expected to emerge, supported by European funding, analysts also expect.


Trends and perspectives

A new report by the global market research agency Mordor Intelligence, examines the market size and share of the solar energy sector in Romania and forecasts its development in the next five years. The study informs that the local market is segmented by end-user into residential, commercial, industrial, and utility-scale users. Market sizing and forecasts have been done based on installed capacity.

“The Romanian solar energy market size in terms of installed base is expected to grow from 1,79 GW in 2024 to 4,21 GW by 2029, at a CAGR of 18,5% during the forecast period (2024 – 2029). Over the medium term, factors such as supportive government policies and declining solar panel costs are expected to drive the local solar energy market forward”, experts calculate.

Throughout the projected period, the Romanian solar energy market is anticipated to be constrained by the competition from other renewable sources, Mordor Intelligence predicts. Nevertheless, the solar energy market in Romania will greatly benefit from the revised country renewable targets and the strongly supportive government initiatives, analysts add.

 

 

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