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Czech wind power generation up 'disappointing' 15 percent in 2013

  |   Feb. 24, 2014 at 12:02 AM
PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Energy production from wind resources in the Czech Republic increased a "disappointing" 15 percent to 478 gigawatt-hours in 2013, industry backers said.

The Czech Society for Wind Energy said last year's showing increased wind's percentage of total domestic gross electricity production to 0.55 percent, enough for about 136,000 households, the Czech news agency CTK reported.

The country added added four new projects last year totaling 8 megawatts, ending 2013 with an installed base of 268 megawatts of wind power.

Blaming the slow growth on political instability and strong opposition from local residents against the expansion of wind turbines, Michal Janecek president of the wind power group, known by its Czech acronym CSVE, said that at the current rate, the country won't be able to meet the wind power goals set out in its national energy action plan.

"Wind power, after an exceptional year in 2012, is increasing very slowly," he said. "Yet the National Action Plan calls for annual growth of 45 megawatts in our field area with a 2020 goal of total installed capacity of 743 megawatts of wind energy," Janecek said, adding it now appears that the objective cannot be fulfilled.

One of the culprits, he said, is the emergence of sophisticated opposition measures in the local regions where wind energy has the greatest potential. These measures, he said, are creating a tougher road for permitting.

"They are leading to a decline in projects and in some cases is causing them to completely stop," he said. "At the national level, there was an amendment to the law on renewable resources, which leads to further restrictions."

A profound change to the Czech renewables support system took effect at the start of 2013 when the feed-in tariff was abolished for all renewable projects over 100 kilowatts and for hydro power projects exceeding 10 megawatts, Windpower Monthly reported.

Distribution network operators such as the dominant Czech energy company CEZ had been required to buy electricity generated from renewable sources under the former system, but with the new law, such generators are now paid through a complex mechanism in which the industry ministry uses a series of 14 criteria.

Martin Bursik, former Czech environment minister and chairman of the Czech Renewable Energy Council, told the publication last year there is a danger of subjective decision making with the aim of preventing renewables development under the new set-up.

"There is evidence that state-owned energy company CEZ, which has strong coal and nuclear interests, was closely involved in drafting the law, hoping to stop development of renewables and eliminate competition in the electricity market," he said.

CSVE's data indicated the purchase price of electricity from wind power plants decreased 5 percent last year to 10.6 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, while the purchase price of electricity from solar power fell to 14.2 cents per kilowatt-hour from 30.9 cents.

Jiriho Gavora, an energy consultant with the Czech firm Ena, told CTK the addition of just 8 megawatts of installed capacity in 2013 was a disappointment -- CSVE expecting to build turbines with an output of 30 megawatts.

If, however, two giant unfinished wind farms from Investor EP Renewables and APB Plzen can be completed, it would sharply increase the Czech Republic's installed capacity, he said.

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