marasSolar Panel System is Croatian producer of premium G-Solar panels mainly sold in the EU market, mostly in Germany. The production is located in a commercial zone of Dugopolje near Split. The company also offers a complete technical solution for large solar power projects on a turnkey basis. With director of Company Solar Panel System, Mr. Zvonko Maras, we talked about the renewable energy prices and cost-effectiveness of solar systems and the great interest of the US market.

The European Union is in its energy plans by 2030 has set the share of renewable energy on at least 27 percent. What are the current figures in the EU and Croatia on this issue, and do you think that the EU plan too ambitious? EU energy plans are ambitious, but in any case, achievable. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels, increase of energy efficiency by 30%, and a minimum 27% share of renewable energy in total energy consumption by 2030 is a major challenge for all EU Member States. It is important that there is a consensus between member states on achieving those objectives. The citizens, as energy consumers, finally became aware of the necessity of preserving the environment in which we live. Current share of renewable energy in total consumption of EU member states is around 15% and every year it increases significantly. Germany has already exceeded the plan of 20% renewable energy, designed for the period until 2020. Production of electricity from solar power plants in Croatia is significantly lower from EU average, especially taking into account the favorable geographical position of our country to use solar energy. Therefore, the photovoltaic systems will be generators of faster development of renewable energy in Croatia.

What you see as the main mechanisms that guarantee progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increase the share of renewable energy sources? If we talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions based on the growth of renewable energy sources, we certainly need to keep a specific system of state aid to producers of renewable energy.  The amount of aid per kWh of renewable energy is reducing each year. The same amount of state aid results with faster growth of installed capacity in renewable energy.  We can expect significant growth of prices CO2/ton and this segment of trading with CO2 certificates will additionally increase the profitability of investments in renewable energy.

In recent years, the prices of solar systems decreased. Has this increased its implementation and cost-effectiveness? Prices of solar photovoltaic systems in recent years have fallen significantly. Investments per 1 kW of power are now even 2-3 times lower than just five years ago. Prices of equipment continue to fall, although not so strong during last two years, which is partially caused by EU anti-dumping duties for the manufacturers from China to protect domestic European production. When comparing the price drop by components of the solar system, it is obvious that today the decline in prices of photovoltaic modules is minimal, partly due to the strengthening of the dollar against the euro, while the price continues to fall converter (inverters). Naturally, this drop in prices of solar photovoltaic systems significantly decreases costs of producing electricity and thus influences the increase of photovoltaic system application. The price of 1 kWh of electricity produced from photovoltaic systems larger than 1 MW is already approaching the market price of electricity from fossil sources. It can be expected that the production from photovoltaic systems in some EU countries will be cost-effective without state aid already in a year or two. In addition, there is trend in all EU Member States to encourage investment in renewable energy for their own consumption, at the place of production, primarily for systems with lower installed power, and these are precisely the characteristics of photovoltaic systems. Our new Act on Renewable Energy Sources, currently in Parliament procedure that should enter into force on  1 January  next year, brings a significant boost to the development of small photovoltaic systems.

In many countries there is a practice of installing photovoltaic panels on commercial buildings.  What is the situation on this issue in our country and what benefits brings this practice? Encouraging the production of electricity from renewable energy at the place of consumption brings a change of setting PV systems on commercial buildings. Taking into account that the production halls, office buildings, shopping centers, hotels,  etc. need large amounts of electricity for their own consumption and also has a large roof surfaces for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems, they become ideal places for investment in PV systems with very short return of investment period. There are also so-called “building integrated” systems where a photovoltaic system is fully integrated in the construction of commercial building, and they are a step forward, because they are built together with construction. An example is an office building with a large glazed surface where in the darkened part of the glass surfaces are built-in solar modules. Faster development of these systems will require better cooperation between the architects and planners of photovoltaic systems.

In July you have participated in Intersolar North America, the largest gathering of American solar energy. Have you closed some business deals in the US market? This year, 10 to 12 June, we participated at the Intersolar in Munich as the only exhibitor from Croatia. After that we were present at the Intersolar North America in San Francisco. The US market for Photovoltaics this year experienced its rapid growth, especially on the West Coast of America. The Fair awoke great interest and we had a lot of contacts from which we expect to result with many successful business relationships.

Source: Poslovni dnevnik