Interview: Stelios Psomas, Greek PV Consultant
Stelios Psomas is a leading Greek PV consultant and author of the market report "The Greek solar PV market, the next Mediterranean PV tiger". He started campaigning for PV in Greece in 1995 (as a Greenpeace energy campaigner) and since then he has pushed for the introduction of feed-in tariffs and the opening of the market. This is mainly done through his role as a policy advisor for the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO) and for Piraeus Bank, a leading bank in PV financing in Greece.
By Stelios Psomas, Edwin Koot, Solarplaza
What are your expectations for the development of the PV market in your country in 2009?
In 2009, only mature projects that were already authorized last year are going to be realized. This translates into approximately 38 MWp of newly installed and operating systems for 2009.
Why do you think the Greek market will finally take off in 2009, after several years in which the feed-in tariff and other incentives looked great but market growth was relatively small?
This is a crucial year for the Greek PV market. Many of the bureaucratic problems that have hindered the development of the market are being resolved, and many new projects are being authorized. That opens a window for more aggressive development in the coming years.
What do you see as the most important market segments in your country for the near future: residential, commercial, or utility scale projects?
In 2009, as well as in the coming 2 years, the most important segment will be the ground-mounted systems with an average size of 100 KWp. MW-size systems will take the lead after 2011. Due to a very promising FIT regime for rooftop systems that was introduced last June (0.55 €/kWh guaranteed for 25 years plus relaxed authorization procedures), we also expect the residential and small commercial market to flourish in the near future.
What is your view on market development over the next three years?
Based on current trends, my best guess is 100 MWp in 2010, 145 MWp in 2011, and 160 MWp in 2012. I must stress though that I consider these estimates to be conservative.
What will be the impact of ongoing module price decreases for market growth in your country? Is there a risk that the feed-in tariffs will be adjusted? Will buyers wait for even better prices, or is market growth related to administrative procedures rather than to the price of modules?
To the joy of investors, prices are going down very fast. So far, it is indeed the administrative procedures that drive the market, not prices. If there is any adjustment in the near future, I guess it will be related to the grant scheme (up to 40% of total system cost), which is now available for commercial systems on top of the feed-in tariffs. I believe that this extra incentive will be abolished in the next couple of years.
Chinese companies seem to lower their module prices severely in order to gain market share. How do Greek customers look at Chinese module brands?
A couple of years ago, people were reluctant even to discuss Chinese modules. Now, the best-known brands are welcomed by investors, especially for MW-size projects. In the medium-size segment, European brands still dominate the market.
When do you expect to see grid parity in your country and in which market segment?
Grid parity is expected in 2013-2017 for rooftop commercial applications, in 2015-2017 for residential systems, and after 2014 for utility scale systems.
How will the Greek solar energy market look in your country in 5 years from now?
Mature. I expect Greece to be within the top ten markets worldwide over the coming years. The potential of the country is huge.
Are the chances good for thin-film solar modules on the Greek market?
Yes, because thin film generally operates better in warm climates. The only limiting factor at the moment is land restrictions, because applications have been issued for certain plots of land in the past with crystalline modules in mind and not thin film. In practical terms, it will be difficult for many investors to change applications they’ve already filed in 2007.
What do you see as the major driver for solar energy in Greece over the coming decade?
The major driver is bureaucracy, which is dependent on political will. If politicians get the message, the market will boom.
Stelios Psomas will be a speaker at the Third Global PV Demand Conference (www.globaldemandconference.com ) on September 22 in Hamburg (Germany). At this major PV-expert event, leading speakers will discuss the demand dynamics and market forecasts in the world's major PV Markets. Stelios Psomas is also the author of the recently launched report “The Greek PV market,” exclusively published by Solarplaza. This comprehensive report provides all the details and insights required for starting and empowering PV business activities in Greece. This unique 70-page document includes an explanation of all the new regulations, a market analysis and forecast, an overview of the Greek supply chain, and a directory of all relevant Greek PV players. The report can be bought online on shop.solarplaza.com