The Belgian region of Flanders has drafted a regulation to offer compensation, calling it retroactive investment premium, for those solar PV system homeowners who have been impacted by the government’s decision to introduce digital or smart meters for such prosumers, which was reversed by a Belgian court.
The draft regulation needs to be approved by the Council of State.
To put things in context, in January 2021 the court cancelled the government directive for families with up to 10 kW PV system to mandatorily install smart meter, but continue to avail of net metering facility for 15-year period post grid connection if they so wished.
The court’s decision impacts 101,000 PV system owning families in Flanders who have already invested in digital meters assuming their advent into the regulatory structure. The Flemish Energy Ministry under Zuhal Demir then announced financial compensation in the form of one-off investment support guaranteeing a return of 5% on the average investment such families made on installing the meters.
At the same time, compensation will also be offered to solar panel owning families who have not yet been able to ‘recoup their investment sufficiently’, according to the ministry. To enable people to calculate the level of financial compensation for their digital meters and see if they are eligible for the compensation, details are available on the Flemish Energy Ministry’s website.
“The nearly 470,000 households that still have an analog reverse counter and do not yet have a digital counter will also have the option to opt for a one-off compensation between now and 2029. They receive this offer once during the normal roll-out of the digital counters. The government still aspires to a roll-out of digital meters of 80 percent by the end of 2024 and 100 percent by July 1, 2029 for the entire Flemish Region, said the Flemish Energy Ministry. “The Flemish Government is, however, abandoning the proposed accelerated roll-out of the digital meter for solar panel owners. Solar panel owners will receive a digital meter over the period 2021 – 2029.”
Families that invested in solar panels before 2021 are not expected to install a digital meter. The compensation is expected to be distributed in the autumn of 2021. One can only apply for compensation until the end of 2025.
Demir wants Flanders to expand its solar power capacity between 2021 and 2025 by at least 1.5 GW, corresponding to an approximate 400,000 household solar panel installations, the minister said in November 2020. It would increase the region’s PV capacity from 3.6 GW in the form of over 500,000 panels.
While the different regions in Belgium follow their own solar agenda, the small European country added a notable 900 MW in 2020. The country’s aggregate installed solar power capacity at the end of 2020 was 4.8 GW (see 900 MW New Solar Installed In Belgium In 2020). 2020 installations are up from 600 MW installed in 2019 and 200 MW more than anticipated in the EU Market Outlook 2020-2024 of SolarPower Europe (SPE). Analysts at SPE expect the country in its medium scenario to add 2.6 GW between 2021 and 2024. SPE recommend Belgium to be more ambitious in its solar targets and have an auction plan at a federal level (see SolarPower Europe Says EU Added 18.2 GW Solar In 2020).