Photovoltaic energy in Romanian rural areas

Photovoltaic energy in Romanian rural areas
Published by Liliana Topliceanu on 16/03/2015

Well-exposed to the sun rays, the rural communities situated in the hill and field areas can use this renewable energy source for the benefit of the community.

We must admit that, although photovoltaic fields have been developed in Romania during the last few years, they send the energy produced to the national grid, and the neighbouring communities, whose land has been bought or rented, get no advantage out of them.

The exchanges of expertise between the local authorities, the study tours to other countries which are more advanced from the point of view of renewable energy exploitation, caused a change in the vision and innovative ideas penetrated into the less privileged rural areas.

Achieving the SEAP for the implementation area of the „100% RES communities” project allowed these ideas to be turned into actions included in the plan, and set the next steps towards the actual achievement of the goals.

Three communities among the members of the „Bacau County for CoM” group committed to building small photovoltaic systems for the street lighting. Why smaller projects? For two well-determined reasons:

-          it is easier to get the financing for projects with lower costs; there are many communities which keep big projects under lock because they could not find the financing, although the projects have been approved, and one of these examples is the town of Slanic Moldova which, a few years ago, handed in a great project;

-          in order to test the actual functioning of such a system in the local conditions, its efficiency and the maintenance costs necessary, its reliability under the weather conditions specific to the area. Of course the, feasibility studies confirmed these things but sometimes reality may be different.

Another motivation, not negligible one, is the stimulation of owners and small local investors to use such systems which, after the amortization of the investment, should ensure lower costs on the electric bill.

Specialists say that it is desirable for the photovoltaic systems to be used in non-electrified areas, for isolated houses or communities which are not connected to the electric grid However, the problem are the costs and the competence of the local authorities as, in such situations, the private owners have to cover the expenses, being eventually supported by some programmes such as the Green House.

The three communities that decided to start such a project are: Odobești, Horgești and Ungureni. The project was drawn up by the Local Councils in cooperation with specialists in the field.

Looking for an accessible source of financing, the National Programme for Rural Development by means of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) was identified as the most reliable source.

The total value of the programmes is 147 278 Euro, of which 117 516 Euro are non-refundable. The financing contracts were signed in September 2014.