Business News

Solarpark in Ostrožská Lhota

In Business News this week: the government moves to reign in solar power subsidies that threaten huge electricity price rises; the price of ČEZ shares falls with speculation Temelín completion could be put back; Prague sets rail deregulation in train; and advertisers target patients in Czech hospital waiting rooms.

Government moves to curb electricity price rises linked to solar subsidies

Photo: archive of CRo 7 - Radio Prague
The Czech government has announced plans to reign in a huge boom in subsidised solar power. It led to alarming warnings of possible electricity price rises of up to 12 percent for households and 17 percent for firms next year. After some debate, cabinet members agreed on Wednesday to tax the solar power subsidies and increase charges for land leased for solar panels. The government will also offset price increases by selling emissions permits and has pledged that electricity prices will not go up by any more than 10 percent in 2011. However, that figure is still far too high, according to the Czech Confederation of Industry. They have said that Czech firms will not be able to cope with a rise of any more than 5 percent.

ČEZ share price falls with news Temelín completion may be postponed

The fact at least some emissions permits will be sold rather than given away appears to be one reason that share prices in the state-controlled power giant ČEZ fell on Thursday to their lowest point in nearly a year and a half. The newspaper Hospodářské noviny reported that another factor was speculation that ČEZ plans to postpone by several years a huge project to complete the Temelín nuclear power station in south Bohemia. The state security council is set to make a decision on Temelín in a month’s time. In the meantime, whatever troubles beset ČEZ, its majority shareholder, the Czech state, will expect dividends to remain at previous levels, officials have said.

Liberalisation of rail services set in train

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
The Czech Republic has taken the first step towards allowing competition on its rail market, by publishing notice of the plan in the Official Journal of the EU. Trains run by alternative operators should then appear on three routes with the start of the 2013/2014 timetable. In 2009 the state-operated Czech Railways won a 10-year contract to run all high-speed trains on the country’s rail network. However, every year another 15 percent of rail transport will be exempted, allowing for a gradual increase in competition for long-distance routes. Regardless of the ministry’s timetable, the first private trains will appear next year, when the Student Agency group launches a Prague-Ostrava service. It will not qualify as public service, so will receive no subsidies.

Czechs spending more than ever online as peak season begins

Photo: European Commission
Czechs are getting more and more used to shopping on the internet, according to an estimate by, a website that helps customers compare prices. It says that total online sales by Czech companies should reach a record CZK 30 billion (over USD 1.7 billion) in 2010. LED-backlight LCD television sets are currently the best selling item on the Czech web. The present pre-Christmas season is peak time for internet sales, with the amount spent in the last quarter around the same as the total for the other nine months of the year.

Advertisers target patients in hospital waiting rooms

Advertisers have begun targeting patients in Czech hospital waiting rooms, Lidové noviny reported this week. Such patients make for a captive audience, with average waits lasting three hours. The newspaper said a number of hospitals in Prague have already been fitted with TV screens running ads, with more on the way in the capital and around the country. In fact, the company behind the system, Onyx Vision, said it hoped to have 800 screens in operation at Czech hospitals by the end of next year.