Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Negative public slows project permits -- Czech wind grinds to a halt

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The outlook for wind power development this year is bleak in the Czech Republic. "One project may be implemented in Moravia but there's unlikely to be any other construction activity," says Petr Pavek of renewables company Resec. Just 31.6 MW was added in 2008, provided by 19 turbines in eight projects, to bring the national total to 133 MW.

At first sight, the Czech Republic's market structure for wind power looks good enough to drive development, but slow project permitting and public antipathy are serious barriers, says Pavek. To make matters worse, the Czech currency lost 20% against the euro in recent months, making turbines more expensive for Czech investors and returns lower for overseas investors.

Wind plant operators have two options for selling their production: a standard power purchase price, which for plant coming on line in 2009 was reduced to CZK 2340/MWh (EUR 81/MWh) from CZK 2460/MWh in 2008; or the wholesale market, which wins them a green power bonus for every unit of electricity generated. Despite the chance for higher returns that the market route offers, most investors choose the security of the guaranteed purchase price for 20 years.

Permitting hurdles are a particular problem, says Ingo Lange of wind developer Windenergie, with a three phase process that can take more than five years. Windenergie, after a long procedural process failed to gain permits for 10 MW at Bozi Dar and 8 MW at Slukow-Kralovstvi, but expects to get authorisation in the first half of 2009 for two projects with a combined capacity of 12 MW at Jindrichovice-Stara and Vrbice. It has to reduce the size of each small project by one turbine. A 26 MW project is being developed at Vysluni, but Windenergie has to wait between one and three years for a permit decision. Pavek, who is waiting for planning consents for 23 turbines, recognised the problem. "I can't make any forecast as to when they may get permits," he says.

Czech president Vaclav Klaus leads a generally negative public attitude to wind power, Pavek says. "Hardly a day passes without a negative article or television report that makes wind energy look bad." State-owned energy company CEZ also seems to lack interest in its home market, even though it is a major wind developer in Romania (page 92). CEZ decommissioned its 1.2 MW Mravenecnik wind station in 2007, but is developing two projects, one at Resice using up to eight 2-3 MW turbines and the other at Stribo, where 13, 2 MW turbines are planned. Neither are due for commissioning before the end of 2012.

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