Prodded by the EU and assisted by falling installation costs, both member and applicant states in central and eastern Europe, such as the Baltic countries and Croatia, have made great strides in ramping up their renewable energy capacity this decade. The region has been a fast-growing photovoltaic market, according to indu stry association Solar Power Europe, with a compound annual growth rate in capacity of 28 per cent from 2010 to 2015. This has enabled seven countries – the Czech Republic, the three Baltic states, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia – to already meet their individual 2020 EU targets for the percentage of energy consumption from renewables. Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Latvia are now also above the EU average for the share of renewable power to overall energy consumption. This fast growth has, however, also created problems that threaten to hold back an increase in renewables. The countries in the lead are under little pressure to boost renewables over the next decade. The Czech Republic’s policy envisages that renewables will comprise just 16 per cent of primary energy sources in 2030, up from 13.4 per cent in 2014. Rapid growth of generously subsidised renewable projects has left end users, taxpayers or energy companies with steeper bills while private inve stors have secured lucrative profits. In the Czech Republic, the government reacted to a “solar boom” by restricting feed-in tariffs and imposing a windfall tax that often hit investors that had just entered the market. The backlash affected all renewables, explaining why wind farms such as JRD’s Vaclavice project have been so rare in recent years. “Renewables were completely discredited,” declared Jan Mladek, former minister and the architect of the Czech government’s energy policy.
FT 20th Oct 2017 read more »