iDnes: Czech solar panel funds lie fallow, as demand outstrips supply

22-07-2019

The Czech Republic is under pressure from the EU to have more renewable and efficient resources in its energy mix. While companies are open to photovoltaic subsidies, the country cannot keep up with demand and is reluctant to write further calls, the news server iDnes.cz writes. What’s more, the program is complex; many smaller players would rather use photovoltaics without funding.

Photo: Pixabay/Sebastian GansoPhoto: Pixabay/Sebastian Ganso Due to unfortunate experiences during the “solar boom” ten years ago, chiefly subsidy fraud, the Czech state is still reluctant to pursue the easiest solution of renewable energy: installing photovoltaic panels on industrial and business rooftops.

Money from the EU is available. But Czech officials are hesitant to issue calls that would enable company to get subsidies to construct photovoltaic power plants. The money for solar panels would even help businessmen with paying for electricity.

“Ones most commonly interested in photovoltaic roofs are production companies or firms that need consistent spaces, such as food or refrigerated storages. This usually considers companies with a greater electric consumption, where solar energy can rapidly decrease expenses,” S-Power Energies managing director Jaroslav Šuvarský told iDnes.cz.

The Ministry of Transport has actually written a call for a new energy-saving project, but businesses may only purchase solar panels while carrying out another energy sustaining measure – such as base isolation or installing new windows. Sometime, such measures prove too challenging or even unnecessary. Compared to that, installing solar panels is a piece of cake.

The Czech state has provided subsidies during the period of the programme from 2014 - 2020. The ministry dismissed the appeal in April last year. Out of a total of 353 projects, 233 have been approved and evaluated. “93 have an official right to receive funding,” Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Štěpánka Filipová told iDnes.cz.

Jan Krčmář, photo: archive of Czech Solar AssociationJan Krčmář, photo: archive of Czech Solar Association That is another thing that people in this field complain about, notes Jan Krčmář of the Czech Solar Association. “The problem is neither the money, nor the interest, but the fact that the ministry is swamped with demands. From the time of submitting an appeal, it may even take two years,” he is quoted as saying.

The entire operation is too complex, and even small firms must do the same amount of paperwork as larger ones. Approving subsidies takes approximately a year; the next six months are stretched by building and construction authorities. Petr Novotný from Renards Corporation also points out the high percentage of unsuccessful appeals, due to errors in previous ones.

The Czech Solar Association is attempting to persuade the ministry to make European subsidies more easily accessible. “Current circumstances require that photovoltaics are installed on roofs. It is a consequence of the ‘solar boom’; everyone fears solar panels covering fields. We say that roofs do not have to create a dogma, as panels can also be located out of their way,” Krčmář told iDnes.cz.

He does not necessarily mean agricultural land. Many companies have a number of functional areas that could be even more efficient sites than rooftops for solar panels, such as covered car parks.

Exaggerated Bureaucracy

Photo: Maria Godfrida, Pixabay / CC0Photo: Maria Godfrida, Pixabay / CC0 Krčmář also suggests that simultaneously, the administrative process should speed up. For example, as shown in television programme New Green Savings (Nová zelená úsporám), where ordinary people can request subsidies for installing photovoltaics.

But the country would have to negotiate an exception in Brussels. Programme New Green Savings is not funded from European, but “Czech” money, more specifically from profit of emission allowance sales, iDnes.cz notes.

Šuvarský says that funds don’t make economic sense for smaller companies. “Smaller and medium-sized companies purchase photovoltaics without funds due to time consuming and financially complicated approvals. Thanks to a dramatic decrease of technology costs, it is more efficient, especially time-wise. They often combine photovoltaics with electro mobile charge stations,” he told the news server.

Businessmen have received their funding after all. “A third appeal is in process for a photovoltaic power plant without accumulation and with allocation of approximately CZK 500 million,” highlights Filipová. In case of interest, money saved could potentially move from the current call.

The current allocation of the energy saving programme is CZK 17.3 billion, CZK 16 billion of which is invested in funding. “Out of the listed CZK 16 billion, CZK 6.1 billion is spent on funding decisions, from that that 2.2 billion is payed for,” adds Ministry spokesperson Filipová.

22-07-2019