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Belgium: beating records, remaining profitable

Market analysts insist Belgium remains a profitable investment for solar manufacturers and consumers alike. Last year’s an annual growth of 737MW of solar capacity and high residential growth rates allayed fears brought on by the abolishment of tax reductions, and point to a very bright future indeed.

Until the end of last year, photovoltaic panels were subsidised in several ways in Belgium: 40 per cent of the investment could be written off for tax purposes; owners could sell the excess energy they produced (green certificates); and they were allowed to run their electricity meters backwards. These tax deductions, which were enjoyed by anyone investing in a solar panel in Belgium, are now a thing of the past, while the value of green certificates is being progressively reduced by the country’s different governments.

However, given the less than generous regime, the Belgian consumer magazine Test-Achats still considers solar panels worth the expense – and it seems as though consumers are in agreement. Last year saw the installation of a large number of PV modules. Volumes recorded by VREG rose fast, with a preliminary record of 163.4 MW for installations larger than 10 kW in June, just prior to the July 1 digression (certificate value becoming € 300/MWh, installations >250 kW € 240). Similarly, VREG reported a near record number of 6,410 requests for small installations that were almost immediately approved in that month.

Registered residential capacity grew considerably, in particular in the second half of 2011. On average, over 7.700 new installations (max. 10 kW) per month were recorded during that period, with an average new volume of over 39 MW/month. The share of this market segment increased in total volume from 45 per cent (2010) to 64 per cent (2011).

A preliminary 2011 record volume of 592.3 MW new capacity was registered by VREG in their last update, including 76.508 new entries, with 208 over 250 kW. That is 76 per cent over the adjusted volume for 2009 (454.2 MW). Market segmentation was 379.0 MW up to 10 kW (system average app. 5 kW/installation), 65.0 MW entries between 10 and 250 kW (11 per cent), and 146.3 MW for the largest installations of above 250 kW (25 per cent). For the latter two categories, 660 and 208 new entries were recorded in 2011 (entries may be segments of larger projects).


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