Boom in solar power production in North Macedonia creates problems for power grid

Boom in solar power production in North Macedonia creates problems for power grid
/ bne IntelliNews
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 19, 2023

The boom in power production from renewable sources in North Macedonia has caused intermittency problems, officials have warned, and the government is now looking for solutions.

In June 2022, eased procedures for households and companies in the country for installation of solar rooftops panels entered into force. The aim of the regulation was to motivate citizens and firms to shift to renewables and to find a solution for expensive electricity supply. However, production from the new installations fluctuates, which is now causing problems for the grid. 

Households can install rooftop panels with capacity of 6 kW without a license instead 4 kW as before, while for business entities the capacities has been increased from 20 kW to 40 kW.

Energy officials say that photovoltaic power stations are generating electricity mostly in the period from 9am to 5pm from April to September, resulting in electricity surpluses.

“There is a boom in the production of electricity from renewable sources in the country,” Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi said on February 17, urging investors to follow procedures so as not to exceed the agreed production in order to avoid problems for the electricity grid.

Officials from the Macedonian Energy Association, MEA, said that the hefty installed capacity of power plants from renewable sources, especially photovoltaic power plants during 2022, may now cause damage to the transmission system in the country.

The association urged the authorities to legally regulate the electricity produced by many photovoltaic power stations with solar panel battery storages.

The economy ministry announced that it will form a working group consisting of representatives from the ministry as well as energy bodies and associations to draft new legislation that will open an opportunity to store electricity from renewable sources.

In 2022, the energy regulatory commission issued 267 licenses for the production of electricity from renewable sources with a total installed capacity of 152.2 MW, which is up by 7% from 2021.

Of these, photovoltaic power plants accounted for 106.5 MW, wind power plants for 36 MW, small hydropower plants for 7.2 MW and biogas power stations for 2.5 MW.

The electricity produced from the newly built power plants can supply electricity for 65,700 households.

Only in January 2023, 26 new photovoltaic power plants with a total capacity of 6 MW acquired licenses from the regulatory commission. It is about local companies who invest in photovoltaics in order to provide themselves with electricity for their production needs.

In North Macedonia, solar power projects with construction permits reached over 400 MW in total.