Croatian PV sector owes it all to rooftops

Croatia’s energy market operator (HROTE) recently published its latest statistics on the country’s installed PV capacity, revealing the country had installed 30.3 MW at the end of October.

This is 2.7 MW more than at the end of May and a massive increase since December 2012, when the small Adriatic country had installed a mere 89.72 KW of solar PV.

All of Croatia’s PV plants thus far are rooftop projects, with the clear majority belonging in the 10 to 30 kW category. In recent months, however, larger rooftop projects have begun to accelerate, leading to around a dozen plants of between 200 to 300 kW in size.

Croatian PV trends

Rather disappointedly, though, Croatia’s PV sector is unlikely to experience another dramatic increase, at least not any time soon. Croatia’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan envisages a tiny 52 MW of solar PV to be added by 2020. In stark comparison, that target for wind is 1.2 GW across the same period.

However, to date the Croatian wind industry has installed just over 250 MW, and market sources told pv magazine that the country is going to miss the 2020 target, mainly due to investors struggling to secure adequate financing for their projects.

Another trend that has emerged from HROTE’s data is the news that Croatia’s solar PV landscape is going to remain firmly pitched in the rooftop sector for the forseeable future.

In theory, Croatia’s remuneration policy for PV plants also allows ground-mounted projects. Thus, Croatian feed-in tariffs (FITs) for solar PV plants, Ana Sra?i?, business secretary at the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA) told pv magazine, are divided into four categories: firstly, rooftop projects up to 10 KW receive €250,90/MWh; secondly, rooftop installations larger that 10 KW and up to 30 KW receive €223,31/MWh; thirdly, rooftop systems larger than 30 KW and up to 300 KW receive €202,30/MWh, and finally, ground-mounted projects up to 5 MW receive €69,62/MWh.

"Currently", Sra?i? told said, "there are no PV plants larger than 1 MW. In 2013, Croatian power plants produced 33% of electricity from fossil fuels, 4% from wind and 63% from hydro. Solar power and biomass still have a pretty negligible share in the overall mix, but both have grown rapidly over the last few years."

It appears that Croatian households and businesses over the past 24 months have familiarized themselves with PV technology and will continue to fill the solar PV quota quickly based on these established market trends.

But targets for this sun-drenched corner of the world of just 52 MW by 2020 are unarguably low. Croatia’s small size might explain its unwillingness to promote large ground-based plants, but its great sun resource and the low prices of the PV technology make it necessary for the government to at least explore ways to increase that target.