Although an early enthusiast for solar in 2009 the Czech Republic’s clean energy ambitions stalled. The share of green electricity was only 12% last year, with solar contributing 3% and wind just 1%. The current government is now reviving the nation’s drive towards carbon-free energy. Will new Czech policies along with EU initiatives like REPowerEU, the Green Deal and the Modernisation Fund successfully breathe new life into the Czech transition? Will the ambitions for multi-fold increases in renewable generation be met for 2030? What are the barriers? Here, the Modern Energy Union summarises the issues, and invites you to attend their conference in Brussels on 14th November titled “REPowerEU: A New Beginning”, in cooperation with EON Czech (details given below). [Promoted by the Modern Energy Union. For free entry to the event please email firstname.lastname@example.org]
REPowerCzech Energy: Opportunities and Challenges of Modern Energy in the Presidency Country
The Czech Republic, in its role holding the EU Presidency, is now moderating a debate among the Member States not only on the energy crisis solution. The country situated in the centre of Europe has so far stood aside from the dynamic emergence of renewables, but with the new government it is beginning to sense again the opportunity in investing in carbon-free energy. New investments are being met with support from the Modernisation Fund.
After years of stagnation, the Czech Republic is signing up to the Green Deal
The Czech share of Green Electricity reached only 12% last year, with solar contributing 3% and wind just 1%. The low share of emission-free electricity is due to the overall stagnation of modern energy development over the last century, which is well symbolised by Czech President Miloš Zeman, who compared domestic coal mining to a hen laying golden eggs. However, since its formation at the end of 2021, the Government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala has taken a different approach to renewables. In its programme statement, for example, it signed up to the Green Deal strategy and the use of renewable energy sources:
“The Green Deal is an opportunity for us to significantly modernise the Czech economy, improve the quality of life and the environment by investing in sustainable development, clean and renewable resources and the circular economy. The public funds invested must be directed to solutions that will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” was stated in the Government’s programme statement. The same document also advocates the use of photovoltaics, which it considers “a key renewable resource.”
Restart of the Czech Power Engineering Sector
The interrelation between the Czech power engineering sector and the impulses of the European REPowerEU strategies or the Green Deal will be the topics of the conference prepared by the Modern Energy Union in cooperation with EON Czech on 14 November 2022 in Brussels. During the three blocks of the debate, leading commentators of the Czech power engineering sector will present themselves.
The conference will offer the perspectives from different spectrums of the Czech economy. Comments will be presented by consultants, the Ministry of Industry, the State Environmental Fund and leading power energy companies. You can learn more about the event at www (https://www.modernienergetika.cz/akce/conference-repowereu-a-new-beginning)
Case study: plasma gasification
One of the conference speakers will be Marek Lang, the Director of the Energy division of the JRD Group, which drives innovation in all areas of its business, whether it is low-energy residential buildings, renewable energy projects or plasma gasification technology. The latter offers an elegant way to significantly increase our raw material self-sufficiency.
Plasma gasification can very efficiently convert a feedstock such as waste into synthesis gas that can be used either for energy as a substitute for natural gas or as a source of valuable chemical raw materials such as hydrogen, methanol or ammonia. This technology is being developed within the JRD Group by Millenium Technologies. In November, it will unveil the 4th generation of its plasma reactor, which will be deployed with customers from next year. “We are excited to bring such a groundbreaking technology to the market,” says Marek Lang.
Barriers to development of renewable energy
One of the moderators of the event will be Jan Fousek, representing the Association for Energy Storage AKU-BAT CZ and Modern Energy Union. Jan will introduce to the participants in his session´s keynote speech the barriers to development of renewable energy (especially solar & wind), energy storage, energy communities or flexibility aggregation.
“The current energy crisis revealed how important it is to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources. We have great supporting schemes, especially the Modernisation Fund, which supports e.g. photovoltaic together with energy storage. The current Czech government supports the energy transition, which is also great. However, there are still some legislative barriers, which need to be removed to do the change right and securely, e.g. missing legislative framework for energy storage, energy communities or aggregation of flexibility”, said Jan Fousek.
The Czech Solar Wave
The Czech Republic was one of the European leaders in the solar energy development, but only in the first stage. In 2009 and 2010, the Czech Republic experienced a literal solar boom, with photovoltaic capacity rising from tens of megawatts to 2,000 MW in those two years. However, after the rapid growth there was a political stop, justified by the high demands for operating support. In the following years, Czech photovoltaic capacity grew by just under 200 MW. Solar investors had to survive a period of political attacks, but above all interventions that reduced state-guaranteed revenues in the form of the so-called solar tax.
The different approach is well symbolised by a comparison between Poland and the Czech Republic: the Polish power sector has made good use of solar energy through auctions of new capacities or the My Current programme. The Czech Republic is still taking baby steps: +200 MW this year (estimate of the Czech Solar Association).
The new phase of photovoltaics has been symbolised in recent years mainly by small domestic photovoltaics on family houses. The state supports these solutions through the successful New Green Savings Programme: the household receives a 50% contribution to the project’s implementation. This can be the installation of solar panels, where the green electricity is used to run appliances in the house or to heat domestic water, but also for battery sets. The output of photovoltaics is limited to 10 kW. A household does not need a licence for such a solution (there is now an amendment in the Chamber of Deputies proposing an increase to 50 kW). The source of funding for New Green Savings is now the National Renewal Plan, but it is in the process of being moved under the Modernisation Fund, financed by the proceeds of emission allowances, so that the programme can meet the growing interest of households.
The skyrocketing prices have ensured a boom in interest in photovoltaics in the Czech Republic among previously hesitating companies. In early 2022, the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced a call for proposals funded by the European-funded National Renewal Plan. During the second half of October, more than 8,000 applications were submitted by companies for financing photovoltaics installed on buildings worth CZK 36 billion.
Finally, the third impetus for the Czech photovoltaic restart is the support for large solar parks located on non-agricultural land from the Modernization Fund, which is administered by the Ministry of the Environment. The first calls were launched in 2021 and there has been a lot of interest.
“We have already supported over 200 new photovoltaic projects with a capacity of 622.4 MW. We will offer another 7 billion CZK in follow-up calls,” said Ms. Anna Hubáčková, the Minister of the Environment, on the interest in drawing support for solar energy.
The possibility of obtaining an investment subsidy, which covers about 40% of the costs, is the only form of support for new renewable energy projects in the Czech Republic. Although the government could announce operational support for auction rounds for new photovoltaics, it has not used this mechanism yet and, according to Jozef Síkela, the Minister of Industry, will not do so.
While in recent years the Czech Republic has understood that solar energy was one of the quick solutions for expensive energy, the wind energy sector is not getting such an opportunity. There are only 340 MW of wind power stations installed in the Czech Republic. The limit to the development of wind energy is the strong reluctance of local people to accept a new element in the landscape. And when there are municipalities willing to invest in wind energy themselves, they lack the legislative possibility to create a power network community.
Pro-growth scenarios developed by the Center for Environmental Issues at Charles University for the Alliance for Energy Self-Reliance show that it is possible to increase renewable generation by roughly five times for photovoltaics by 2030, to 12 TWh/year, and for wind by roughly seven times today’s levels, to less than 5 TWh/year.
Another study by the company Deloitte for the Modern Energy Union which calculated the possibilities of meeting the Czech commitment to develop renewable energy sources by 2030 (published in 2019 before the current debate on the need to increase the EU target to 45%) showed that the installed capacity of solar power plants could be increased to 9,000 MW and wind power plants to 1,400 MW. Increasing the share of renewables will also have a positive impact on employment. Up to 33,000 jobs are expected to be created at the same time. GDP could increase by up to 7% through new investments.
Article authored by Martin Sedlak, program director of the Modern Energy Union