One of Europe’s biggest solar power stations opens in Czech Republic

10. September 2010 | Applications & Installations, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Top News | By:  Becky Stuart

The largest solar power station in the Czech Republic opened on Wednesday in the village of Veprek, some 20 kilometers north of Prague, according to Chinese news agency, xinhuanet.

View across Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic's PV future is uncertain. Image: Solarpraxis/Becky Stuart.

The station covers an area equivalent to a hundred soccer fields, and has the designed capacity to generate 35 megawatts of electricity. The key equipment was manufactured in China's Jiangsu Province.

The opening ceremony was attended by Ren Hongbin, chairman of Sinomach, a state-owned company in China that guaranteed the project. Hongbin said in his speech that this power station, one of the biggest in Europe, will help fulfill the goals of the UN Copenhagen climate change conference to reduce pollution and increase the use of renewable energy sources.

The Czech Republic hopes to increase the share of electricity produced by solar power stations to 13 percent by 2020.

Targets won't be achieved

However, pv magazine was told during a fact finding mission to the country last week that given the government’s new photovoltaics proposals, which are looking to significantly cut feed-in tariffs, the future of the solar sector is extremely uncertain. According to sources, the industry is in "panic".

Furthermore, it has been said that the country will not be able to reach its 13 percent renewable energy target, because the government is building a National Action Plan "against renewables, not for renewables". The source explained: "This plan is made from the traditional energy companies and if you look at this in more detail you will find out that the plan is to combust biomass together with coal, so this is not an action plan for renewables, but this is an action plan against renewables."

It was added that the government should modernize the electricity network and prepare for the integration of a smart grid. However, instead it "wants to invest all the money they have for modernization of proposals for nuclear energy and not for renewable energy".

With the solar industry in a state of uncertainty surrounding its future, it can only wait until November to see what the final decision is regarding governmental support. "There are so many questions at the moment – what is going to happen at the end of the year?," concluded the source.

Watch out for more on the Czech PV market from pv magazine in the coming weeks.

Not all is doom and gloom?

Despite the confusion, there are still plenty of companies willing to place their bets on the Czech industry. Indeed, while IBC Solar established a Czech subsidiary in Prague last week, Premier Power has just announced it has opened an new office to serve new and existing customers in the Czech Republic.

Commenting, Dean R. Marks, chief executive officer of Premier Power said: "This location will be our portal to eastern Europe, serving the great demand for solar photovoltaic power generation in the Czech Republic and in nearby countries as well."

Petr Marek, president of Plaan added: "Based on the estimates published by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) in their Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2014, anticipated demand for solar electric power generation in the Czech Republic is estimated to be greater than 900 Megawatts (MW) for 2010, some 119 percent higher than EPIA estimates for 2009.

"The establishment of this office is a timely and significant commitment made by Premier Power to do business in the Czech Republic. We remain excited by the opportunity to partner with Premier Power in expanding the solar project pipeline here, and in the surrounding European markets where their governments are promoting solar power as a significant source of alternative energy."


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