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Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Space and wind for hundreds of megawatt

A British company studying the potential for renewable energy in the Czech Republic has found "a thrilling result" for wind. "The Czechs have at least ten times more wind potential than they thought they had," says Haydn Scholes of CSM Associates (CSMA), based at Herniss in Penryn. CSMA calculates that there is a theoretical potential for 2200 MW of new wind farms in the country with a generation of 6.2 TWh a year. "This is a very conservative but realistic figure," Scholes says.

The CSMA report assesses wind, geothermal, solar and biomass resources in the Czech Republic and examines development risks. It also summarises a study comparing conditions influencing the exploitation of renewable energy in the Czech Republic to those in the European Union, conducted by Energy for Sustainable Development, another British company based in Bath. Funding for the project was provided jointly by the Czech Ministry of Environment and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through its Environmental Know How Fund.

The first assessment of wind resource data identified an overall potential of 243 TWh a year, but when land and economic constraints were taken into account, the theoretical potential dropped to 11.9 TWh, supplied by some 6000 turbines turning in winds of at least 7 m/s at ten metres. "This throws away quite a lot that's marginal," Scholes says. "So in ten years time when the wind industry is established, it might be worth going back to take another look." In Scholes' scenario, potential wind installations are clustered into small and large wind farms, with results published both with and without a stringent "aesthetic impact" factor, which spaces wind stations at least ten kilometres apart. Turbines are sited ten rotor diameters apart to avoid wind shadow effects. Under his most stringent criteria, Scholes found a potential for 48 small wind farms of around ten turbines for 314 MW of capacity. If large wind farms were preferred, there were sites for 24 major projects amounting to 290 MW.

Relaxing the study's parameters could double or triple the number of machines. "It's relatively easy to see some very large wind farms," he says. Scholes anticipates these would be developed by foreign consortiums headed by major wind turbine manufacturers, while smaller projects would be built by farmers and locals, probably using Czech technology. This would be based on wind turbines smaller than the 600 kW size used by Scholes in his study.

The price to pay

CSMA concludes that the Czech wind resource is as large as that of biomass, with the generating cost of wind at CZK 0.98-4.25/kWh on a par with the best of the biomass conversion technologies and similar to those for wind farms in western Europe.

Wind power, however, is "not quite economic under current conditions and some form of subsidy will be required to ensure exploitation of the Czech wind resource," CSMA advises. "The scale of the support will depend on the amount of wind energy the Czech government wishes to exploit." Although a number of schemes have existed in the past, currently there are no subsidy programmes for renewable sources of energy.

"It's been very hard so far," says Scholes. The country has not had developers who understood how to identify the right conditions for a wind farm location. "One [wind farm] was even placed in a dell. They got it wrong and had no support, so its not surprising that they ran into trouble." In November, the Czech Wind Energy Society was prompted to issue a public statement assuring foreign developers it would guarantee all wind measurements following misleading wind data research a wind farm at Ostruzùn‡, (Windpower Monthly, January 1998).

CSMA emphasises thoroughly researching potential projects, with financial support available for feasibility studies. Potential developers will need easy access to low cost capital finance or grant aid, it says. The report recommends presenting a single development programme package to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank, backed by appropriate Czech government support. It also suggests a revenue support policy along the lines of the UK Non Fossil Fuel Obligation, requiring regional utilities to purchase a specific amount of electricity from renewable sources at a specified premium price.

CSMA also notes that Czech companies are treading on their own toes by neglecting to achieve an appropriate level of internationally recognised certification for their own wind turbine technology. It recommends a government supported certification programme.

Shaping policy

At the political level CSMA notes several areas where the Czech Republic is not yet in line with European Union Policy. Encouraging indigenous renewables energies and developing export markets should be part of governmental industrial policy to fit with the principles of the EU, Scholes says. "This should be done through joint ventures between government and industry as an integrated part of economic development policy." The study advises that "relevant Czech Ministries champion the renewables cause and ensure that it takes greater precedence on the Czech government's agenda."

A second British company, Borderwind, last year received a grant for ECU 130,000 under the European Commission's Joint Opportunities (JOP) programme for a feasibility study for establishing a wind energy development company in the Czech Republic with a local partner (Windpower Monthly, January 1997). This project is still ongoing, says Borderwind.

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