Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Strong support system kicks Czech development into first gear

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It was a milestone year for the Czech Republic, with 50-60 MW of new wind power plant installed in 2007, mainly in one 42 MW facility, to bring cumulative capacity to around 116 MW, according to the Czech wind energy association. Work also started on plans for at least a further 200 MW, 20 MW of which is to come online this year and the rest by the end of 2010. "The support framework in the Czech Republic is good," says Hubert Petrucek of wind developer Ostwind, which hopes to see its first wind plant installed in the country in 2009. "There are many developers active."

Wind plant operators can choose between accepting a fixed price for electricity or opt for a green power bonus on top of the wholesale electricity price. Rates under both options are paid over 15 years and set by the regulator. With 2007 as the base year, rates for new plant coming on line in each subsequent year decrease by 5% annually. The regulator revises the rates annually with an eye to wholesale prices, to make sure the total price paid rises 2-4% each year. The increase this year is 2.5%.

Under the fixed price option most popular with wind plant owners, projects that came online in 2007 get CZK 2.52/kWh (EUR 0.1/kWh) this year, up from CZK 2.46/kWh (EUR 0.09) last year, while those coming online in 2008 get CZK 2.46/kWh (EUR 0.09/kWh). The green bonus for wind projects online last year is CZK 1.93/kWh (EUR 0.08/kWh) and CZK 1.87/kWh (EUR 0.075/kW) for those commissioned this year.

The country's biggest wind farm is the 42 MW development installed last year at Krystofovy Hamry in the Erzgebirgskamm mountains close to the border with Germany. Comprising 21 Enercon 2 MW turbines it was developed by Czech company Ecoenerg in partnership with German firm EAB Projektbau. The developers are hoping the Czech environment ministry will qualify the project under the UN's Joint Implementation (JI) program. If approved as a JI project, the operator can sell the wind farm's emission reduction units (ERU) into the EU's emissions trading system.

Next year may see the arrival of wind turbines from the United States in the country. In a EUR 61.4 million deal, Czech company S&M CZ has ordered 40 Dewind 2 MW turbines from Composite Technology Corporation, which now makes the German-designed Dewind model at a Teco Westinghouse facility in Round Rock, Texas. The first ten are scheduled to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2008, with the remaining 30 due in 2009. These are in addition to two Dewind 2 MW turbines delivered to S&M CZ last year from Germany, and a further seven that are on their way.

Another company with big plans is Green Bear, based in Luxembourg. Last year it started work on plans for ten Czech wind projects totalling 100 MW, securing land lease agreements for most of them. Formal applications for grid connection have also been submitted. If all goes to plan, they should be operating in 2010. Yet annother player, financial investor Meinl International Power, based in Jersey in the Channel Islands, says it is has plans for around 200 MW in central, east and south-east Europe, including in the Czech Republic. It will develop them with the Simonsfeld group, part of WKS Holding, a company that has developed and operated wind stations in Austria.

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