With growing energy prices, Czech households increasingly investing in solar power

On the backdrop of rapidly growing energy prices, businesses have registered growing interest in rooftop solar power systems among Czechs. With higher energy costs and a generous government grant programme, the return on investment into these systems currently ranges around eight years or less for most households.

The Czech Republic’s main energy provider, ČEZ, has announced that it installed 2,5 times more photovoltaic panels last year than in 2020. Meanwhile, the sales of batteries and heat pumps doubled during the same period.

According to the Czech Solar Association, the dominant type of solar production in the Czech Republic is currently via small rooftop solar panels. The main growth in household photovoltaic energy installation was registered in the second half of last year, when energy prices started rising rapidly, the association states.

Martin Sedlák, the programme director of the pro-green NGO Modern Energy Union, told Czech Radio Plus that Czechs are most interested in purchasing solar panels together with batteries, in order to maximize their photovoltaic system's potential.

“The most typical system costs around CZK 500,000, but you can also find cheaper systems that sell at around CZK 430,000. The [government’s funding programme] New Green Savings (Nová Zelená úsporám) covers around 50 percent of that investment.

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“Twelve years ago, combining photovoltaics with a battery had a rate of return of about 12 years. With today’s prices, the return on investment in closer to eight years and can be even shorter if there is a lot of electricity usage. However, this is of course dependent on the individual consumption of each household.”

Another option is to purchase a solar-assisted heat pump, which uses the sun’s energy to heat water. According to Pavel Hrzina from the Czech Technical University’s Department of Electrotechnology, this is the most cost efficient use of photovoltaics overall.

“You put your module on top of the roof and connect it with a simple regulator directly with the boiler. Such a system costs you just a few dozen thousand crowns, which is nothing considering the cost of building materials today. It provides the family with hot water for roughly 10 months a year.”

He told Czech Radio that the increasingly cheaper cost of recycling solar panels has also helped make photovoltaic energy more attractive in recent years. Such panels currently degrade at a rate of roughly 0.25 percent per year.

While at the moment recycling batteries is far harder, the scientist believes that this issue could also be solved in the next few years.

“Batteries have a more complicated chemical composition and there are not many that need recycling right now. We will have to wait until there are actually batteries that need to be recycled. However, some companies are already asking about how to do it.”

According to energy research firm EGU Brno, solar has the potential to cover close to 27 percent of the Czech Republic’s total energy consumption, roughly half of which would be covered by rooftop solar panels and the other half by panels installed on facades.

Last year solar power accounted for around 2.8 of total energy production, according to data from the statistics website oenergetice.cz.