“On-bill schemes” have long been promoted by partners in the CLEAR-X project as a great way to engage middle- and low-income consumers in the energy transition. Where a third party, often the electricity supplier, pays for the energy renovation or renewable device installation in the home, the consumer can then pay back the cost of the works on a monthly basis, as part of their energy bill – hence the name, “on-bill scheme”.

With a clear mention of the schemes in the EU’s recast Energy Efficiency Directive, the immediate impact can now be seen: Starting in January 2024, consumers in Cyprus will have access to an on-bill scheme for solar panels.

The Cypriot Minister of Energy unveiled the “Photovoltaics for All” scheme in November 2023, a €30m scheme aiming to increase the use of PV panels in Cyprus, which will in turn reduce home electricity bills.

The scheme is expected to initially support approximately 6,000 applicants, targeting those with an average consumption of approximately 550kWs per month, and aiming for installation of PV panels of up to 4.16kWs.

Residential consumers who wish to take advantage of the plan will apply to the Renewable Energy Fund, secure approval to cover the amount for the purchase of photovoltaics, proceed to an agreement with an installer and then their electricity supplier (for the time being exclusively through the Electricity Authority of Cyprus) will collect the repayment instalments and deposit them in the RES Fund. The system’s repayment starts with bi-monthly charges of €150 through their electricity bill.

Meanwhile, applicants will be able to monitor the repayment details of their system through a specialised digital system which will be created to record the payments.

An illustration considered how the plan will benefit a household with a bi-monthly electricity tariff of €370. The presentation explained that following the system’s installation, the bi-monthly bill will decrease to €207. The repayment of the plan will be completed over a period of four to five years. After repayment, the bill will amount to just €57.

In addition, the Ministry intends to draw up quality specifications for the systems that can be financed through the RES Fund, to ensure that the public money that will be allocated will end up in quality photovoltaics. Considerations are also being made to ensure that suppliers commit to the RES Fund and to sell to consumers at a fair price, , to avoid overpricing due to the expected increased demand.

“This is a great scheme and we’re excited to see it get started,” commented Stamatis Rossides of the Cyprus Consumers Association. “If we could ask for more, of course we would – 6,000 applicants is a good start, but we hope to see the project grow, and hopefully it will set a good example for other countries in Europe too.”

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The CLEAR-X project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101033682.