Although photovoltaics have been installed on the roofs of houses by one hundred and six in recent years, the Czech Republic still ranks among the worst in the EU in terms of the share of renewable energy sources in electricity production. The climate can probably play a certain role, but what do the countries ahead of us do better that have a higher share of renewable energy?
The answer does not lie in the climate. The Netherlands has approximately 1,100 W of installed power in photovoltaics per inhabitant, while here we have approximately 230 W. Nordic Sweden has so far installed 2.6 GW, which is a bit more than in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, the answer is quite simple: In the Czech Republic, photovoltaics were “rediscovered” in 2021, until then we were an island whose energy policy was not understood by anyone in the European Union, including such countries as Poland or Hungary. In the past decade, “one hundred and six” were installed everywhere. In order to make up for the delay, the legislation would have to be simplified even more, but above all, the audibly spoken concepts would have to sink down to the level of local governments.
Your company has experience from many foreign countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary and others. What about the subsidies there, whether for households or companies? And how would you compare them in terms of volume and effectiveness with the Czech ones?
A third of electricity will come from the sun and wind by 2030, the government reports. Impossible, experts say
I do not dare to comment on the situation in the area of subsidies for households, because I have no comparison. In the industrial segments where we operate, the situation is different, in some places there are subsidized purchase prices, in some places the purchase prices are only adjusted to a certain market limit, there are various tax benefits, there are rarely even investment subsidies, and in some places photovoltaics operate on the free market. For the development of the industry, it is important to ensure the participation of own investment capital in construction. This can only be achieved if the invested capital brings the investor a minimum profit that is sufficient for him. And this is basically the situation in the Czech Republic now.
How would you describe your typical client (company) and what basic parameters must the job meet in order to accept it? For example, do you have a rule that you only design or build PV plants from a certain output?
Greenbuddies focuses exclusively on buildings with an installed capacity of over 100 kW, so our typical clients are manufacturing, storage or trading companies or investors in land-based power plants. The largest power plant on the roof we have built has a capacity of 9 MW, that is an area of about 9 ha, the largest power plant on the ground that we have installed has a capacity of 138 MW and is located in Holland.
Could you mention some specific examples of such projects in the Czech Republic?
The Czech Republic really woke up to the new photovoltaic spring only in 2022, and for us, work began with preparation for implementation crowned by obtaining building permits. Really large installations in the order of tens of MW will come into construction only next year. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that in cooperation with ČEZ Esco we have already completed several roof installations in the order of MW units, for example at the Congress Center in Prague or at the Škoda Auto plant in Mladá Boleslav. I would also like to mention the projects for our customers from various industries, such as the Bidfood freezers, the Unipress printer or the Penny discount chain.
It recently became clear that the residents of the village of Josefov in the Sokolovsk region rejected the construction of a wind power plant in a referendum. Would you say that this is rather an isolated case, or does your company also sometimes encounter resistance from municipalities and locals during the possible construction of a PV plant? How are you trying to solve it?
There are municipalities that oppose the construction of PV plants. Then we try to find ways to make the construction more interesting for the municipalities, and we are mostly successful. It would certainly help to harmonize the positions of political entities at the central, regional and local levels more. In the solar sector, we need stability for investors and a predictable environment, which we have been lacking for a long time.
Photovoltaic boom on blockhouses? The key will be the agreement of the apartment owners
When you say that you are mostly successful, how do you convince the municipalities in the end? Is it just a matter of simply offering more money that fits their budget, or are there other ways?
For this purpose, we believe that there will be an institute of so-called investor contracts approved by the state. Already today, on the basis of individual contracts with municipalities, we are always looking for ways to help their budgets, and we are also trying to create a mechanism so that citizens can benefit directly by having cheaper energy.
You are building a large floating PV plant in Germany. Do you see the potential for solar panels on water in the Czech Republic as well? People might not mind it as much as greenfield PV…
We clearly see that potential in the Czech Republic. We even know that such projects are already in preparation. The project in northern Germany is being built in a flooded mining pit, so it turns a brownfield into a useful site and the energy produced will be used by a company operating nearby. Also, by rotating the solar panels like a sunflower behind the sun, up to 25 percent more solar energy is produced than with a static installation. Which is an ideal scenario for working with green energy.
Can you mention any specific projects or locations where PV plants on water could be created?
Unfortunately, I cannot afford to name specific locations and investors. But in general it can be said that I expect them to arise on retention reservoirs, water bodies created by the flooding of former mines and other technical-economic water bodies.