Serious cash problems in RES sector

By Chryssa Liaggou

The renewable energy sources (RES) sector is ringing the alarm bells and demanding immediate measures to boost liquidity in the electricity market as well as a long-term plan for its viability and growth. In a joint interview last week, the three associations representing the sector (in the respective areas of wind power stations, photovoltaic parks and small hydroelectric plants), along with the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (HWEA), blamed the government for failing to diagnose the real problem in the sector, which according to the representatives is the ever-increasing bad loans in the electrical energy supply market.

The representatives of the RES groups stressed they have been warning since last fall that the cash deficit from electrical energy suppilers is being passed on to the Hellenic Electricity Market Operator (LAGHE, previously the Hellenic Transmission System Operator -- DESMHE), bringing it to its knees, and that the shortfall in the special account for RES investments is due to this.

They said that the RES groups should not be blamed for the shortfall in the energy market as their deficit is only a small fraction of the total. In fact, they argued that RES reduce the cost of energy and presented a number of studies backing this opinion.

The RES representatives asked that producers of green energy be paid immediately at least one month?s worth of arrears in order to inject some much-needed cash into the stagnant market. They also asked for a full report on the financial problems of the electrical energy market, as well as proposing the formulation of a long-term action plan. This, they said, could include changing the way electricity is taxed, the way Public Power Corporation is used as a tax collection mechanism, and ways to apply for funds from the Hellenic Financial Stability Facility (HFSF).

The representatives also voiced serious concerns over the possibility that guaranteed prices of electrical energy may be reduced in the future, a proposal that has been put forward in a recent report by the Ministry of the Environment and Energy.