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Friday, December 2, 2022

Croatia is Dangerously Late With Green Energy, but the Potential is Huge

There is a big increase in interest and installations of solar panels on family houses and business buildings such as IKEA, JGL, Genera, Planet Shoes, writes the business weekly Lider Media.

The European Green Plan is an opportunity for the Croatian economy to reposition itself on the scales of success, and green energy is one of the primary drivers of dramatic change. The Leader asked OIEH member Branimir Ivkovic, project development manager at ENCRO, the leading company of the Croatian wind farm management group, about how we stand in this area and should we have high expectations for Croatia in weighing of green forces.

Successful societies are those that long ago, while the renewable energy sector was small, recognized future trends and potential, and then used predictable and stable policies that led to the state in which their economy already plays a significant role in terms of RES, electrification and energy efficiency. If we are constantly behind the trends and if we are encouraged to act only by the late implementation of European directives, Croatian society and economy will remain a minor factor in the energy transition“, Ivkovic said directly at the beginning.

According to data for 2018, the total production in the area was 12 TWh, and consumption was almost 19 TWh. About 6 TWh came from net imports, of which about 2.8 TWh from nuclear power plant Krsko. Transmission and distribution losses were about 1.8 TWh. Hydropower production was almost 7 TWh (due to quite good hydrology in 2018), and thermal power plants produced about 3.2 TWh. RES is led by wind farms with 1.3 TWh, followed by biomass and biogas with around 0.6 TWh combined, cogeneration 0.4 TWh (primarily block L in TE-TO Zagreb) and solar power plants 0.07 TWh. Due to the construction of new facilities, production from WPPs in 2019 should be a bit below 1.5 TWh, and since last year, the first Croatian geothermal power plant has been in operation. Other sources are likely to be similar as in 2018. The final results of the impact of hydrology and the interruption of HPP Dubrovnik on HPP production have yet to be seen.

The fact that Croatia was the only country in Europe that formally reached the targets for the use of RES in gross final energy consumption five years earlier is not a valid indicator of progress, as it is a consequence of somewhat vague retroactive calculations, but it is also a proof for lack of real effort and results.

The European Green Agenda clearly shows the direction of the European economy, not only in terms of energy, which is already undergoing a fundamental transformation, but also in terms of all other sectors that will be affected by decarbonisation.

 “The Croatian economy must find its place in the supply chain of products and services on the giant market as envisaged by the European Green Plan. It is precisely the inclusion in European supply chains of products and services that represents a huge potential for small and medium-sized enterprises. In this segment, a number of European support mechanisms are available, which are applicable in science and education, construction, transport, energy and the development of new solutions and innovations. In addition to public support mechanisms, mobilization of private capital is also crucial, which again requires long-term predictability and stability of the regulatory framework”, he explains.

The largest emissions come from transport and energy sectors. These two sectors together account for about 16,000 kt CO2eq, which is almost 70 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Relatively low per capita emissions in Croatia are largely result of inherited conditions and broader trends, rather than of actual development and application of new technologies.

The development of technology and new solutions is many times faster than the Croatian bureaucracy. And this is a serious obstacle because the achievement of goals depends on the readiness of Croatian society to change established habits and regulations. Ivkovic also notes that the energy transition will not affect all sectors equally, that is, while for some it will be an opportunity for growth, others will face additional challenges. But it is crucial that as a final result, along with all other benefits such as climate protection, security of energy supply and technological innovation, there will be GDP growth.

The plans are certainly ambitious, but also absolutely necessary to keep warming within 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial period. Climate change is becoming bigger and sharper, and companies that are more ambitious and react in a timely manner will be in a much better position in later stages to mitigate climate change consequences on their business“, Ivkovic concluded.

The construction of new plants will be reduced almost exclusively to solar and wind power plants. Wind farms have had a significant growth trend for a long time, while the tragic state of solar power plants should finally be reversed soon, and this energy source should take on one of the biggest roles in the future. Two scenarios are given in the Energy Development Strategy and both are based on the strong construction of solar and wind power plants. By 2050, there should be 2,700-3,800 MW from wind farms. Other sources will also be built, but not nearly to the same extent as solar and wind power plants. It is expected that biomass, biogas and other RES plants will also, to a certain extent, participate in the energy transition.

You can read more about the potentials of the European Green Plan for Croatian entrepreneurs in the main topic of the business weekly Lider issue, which was published in printed and digital form and in which Ivkovic interviewed another RESC member: Ines Ban-Kolic, owner of the company Elvirtus, which already had several successful projects, including the installation of a solar power plant at JGL’s building in Rijeka.

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