Second solar power boom beckons in Czech Republic

Foto: Archiv Radio Prag

Solar power proved a major and expensive turnoff for the Czech state and many Czechs after a misguided and rigid set of incentives were introduced almost a decade ago that have since cost the country billions of crowns in support payments. But a solar revival now looks like it is picking up pace based on households and not on so-called solar barons.

Photo: Czech Radio - Radio Prague
According to some estimates, the hundreds of billions in past solar subsidies paid out in the Czech Republic could already have been well on the way to putting solar panels on every house in the country. But the subsidies went elsewhere into other pockets and a lot of the panels now mostly in fields are feeding the national grid at fairly high cost.

But a second solar boom might just be around the corner based on rooftop panels and that’s what Czech state controlled power giant ČEZ is banking on as it seeks to diversify its earnings options. One reason for the upswing in interest it the fact that such panels can now be combined with more affordable but sophisticated batteries meaning that it’s not a case of use it or lose it but that the electricity can be saved longer for other uses.

Pavel Cyrani, photo: ČEZ
ČEZ launched its solar offer this year and has already completed 50 contracts with another 100 likely to be wound up by the end of the year and around 1,200 orders for homes and firms in the pipeline. Pavel Cyrani is ČEZ’s head of trading and the man piloting the move into solar for the many. He says the concept of decentralized energy production from rooftop household solar to companies producing their own power is one that looks like being one of the main themes for the future:

“This is the beginning of a massive trend. Within the framework of talks about the state energy concept there is discussion that up to 50 percent of energy could be coming from de-centralised power sources.”

But decentralized energy production can put a bigger strain on the national energy network and dwindling number of those consumers still relying on traditional big power plants for their electricity. The Czech electricity regulator has already tried in a first attempt to try to get to grips with some of these costs and failed.

Photo: Czech Radio - Radio Prague
And there’s another factor that has been thrown into discussions about how the future Czech and European energy mix should be shaping up for the future – Brexit.

Britain’s looming withdrawal from the European Union has already sparked reflection on whether the remaining countries, including the Czech Republic, will have to boost previous renewables energy commitments in order for the EU as a whole to stay on target to meetings its ambitions to squeeze the use of fossil fuels and curb climate change.

Britain was traditionally one of the leaders on such climate and renewables commitments and had been planning to invest enormous funds in off shore wind parks. Whether it will still be tied in some way to EU energy goals and its past commitments is still not clear.