No Out Of Pocket Solar – The government’s scheme for a ‘solar panel on every rooftop’ is still ‘alive’ and coming – although not in the autumn as previously promised, but at the beginning of the year. That means another electricity bill or two away. Also, it’s seriously messed up again – especially when it comes to the funding part. On the positive side, many more families will be eligible than initially thought.

On July 20, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said that the general public would be able to apply for a photovoltaic (PV) rooftop system, and then pay it back through installment payments to the Authority of -Electricity of Cyprus (EAC) – the implementing organization.

No Out Of Pocket Solar

No Out Of Pocket Solar

At that time he explained that it would not be a subsidy – the scheme would be financed by the banks, and by importers and installers of PVs and storage batteries. All these will fall under one umbrella – the EAC.

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Essentially the state – through the EAC – puts up the capital for PV systems as most people simply can’t afford it, and then consumers pay it back in installments.

And it was going to be a hybrid – PVs with storage batteries. In this way, any energy that is not absorbed is stored for later – then even during the same night on any given day.

It is learned that the scheme will be announced “within a few weeks” and will actually be operational in early 2024.

In fact, the officials had toyed with the idea of ​​revealing it during the course of the COP28 that will take place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12. It seems that thought has been scrapped.

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Second, funding. The banks start, the RES and the Energy Conservation Fund come under the ministry of energy.

“The capital will come from the RES fund, in which all consumers pay around €4 on their bills,” confirmed EAC spokesperson Christina Papadopoulou.

Papadopoulou explained how it will work. Those eligible will apply to the ministry of energy and will get a ‘loan’ – tentatively up to €6,000 or €7,000 – for the PV system. Applicants will sign a contract with the ministry of energy. With that capital they will order and install a system. Once it is certified by a technician, connected to the grid and starts working, the first partial payment begins – on the regular bills issued by the EAC.

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“So, the applicants will enter into two contracts – with the energy ministry and with the EAC,” said Papadopoulou.

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Why €6,000 to €7,000, and how does that value come about? Because the systems to be installed will have explicit technical specs and will have a capacity of up to 4.5 kilowatts.

“It won’t be the cheap stuff that some companies tend to install under existing government schemes,” another source tells us. “These businesses would collect money from the government and then install their cheapest system in their stock. Not anymore.”

As previously announced, the scheme was open to everyone and available in three versions: 4 kilowatts, 7 kilowatts and 10 kilowatts, depending on the details of the residence. That’s gone too.

“Now it is fixed at 4.5 kilowatts – or up to 4.5 kilowatts, to be precise,” says Papadopoulou. “It is aimed at small and medium-sized families, in terms of consumption.”

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These are homes with an average consumption of up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours every two months. It is intended to benefit ‘the average Joe and Jane’.

As the other source said: “We didn’t want mansions with swimming pools to qualify. They can afford to pay for a PV system out of pocket.”

Another departure from the original plan is the lack of batteries – so no more hybrids. They will be straight-up solar panels.

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Why? Because hybrid systems cost more, and officials didn’t want people to struggle with even higher repayment rates.

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“This way, it will have a wider appeal, which is the objective,” said the source close to the government, who preferred to remain anonymous.

That’s still a long way from the ‘on every rooftop’ meme – but also a lot better than the initial iteration of the scheme.

“Under the previous plan, the EAC was budgeted around €5 million. It would have been enough to cover only 1,200 houses.”

Therefore, once a person installs a PV system, the cost for the actual consumption of electricity will decrease, but then a separate entry will be added to the account for the installment payment – repayment of the previously mentioned loan from the RES fund. The payment amount, we were told, is currently set at €150. In general, however, people will see a considerable reduction in the bill.

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The scheme appears to have gained regulatory approval – from the energy regulator as well as the state aid control commissioner.

One potential flaw relates to what happens if a beneficiary pays for electricity consumption, but not the installment payment for the PV system. Does the EAC then cut the power?

In any case, the new PV scheme could not come too soon. We see stories of domestic consumers spending €1,000 and more on electricity. And things aren’t going to get any easier, what with the announced carbon tax coming in a few months.

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