Czech Solar Day raises awareness of benefits of solar power


Monday, September 13th was a beautiful sunny day here in Prague, and that was rather apt, as it was Czech Solar Day. Its aim was to draw the public's attention to the potential of solar power.

There are two basic ways of exploiting solar power. There are special panels, called photovoltaic cells, that convert sunlight directly into electricity, and thermal collectors that turn solar power into heat. Although solar energy is the largest freely available renewable resource, it's used far less in the Czech Republic than in most other EU countries. Jaromir Rehak is the head of the Czech Renewable Energy Agency.

"In both, thermal solar and photovoltaic, or PV solar energy, the Czech Republic is, I would say, ten years behind Germany. For example, the total photovoltaic installations produce about 180 kW at the peak. In Germany it's ten times more."

To encourage the use of solar power in the Czech Republic and to promote research and development in the field, a new agency was established this year.

Solar collectors, photo: CTKSolar collectors, photo: CTK "We established a new organisation, an NGO, Czech Renewable Energy Agency, for the support of renewable energy, for discussion with the government and for the support of Czech legislation in the area of solar energy and renewable energy."

The Czech Republic is the only country in Eastern Europe that produces photovoltaic devices that convert solar power to electric energy. There is also extensive cooperation between the commercial sector and the Czech Academy of Sciences and a number of Czech technical universities. However, a large part of the Czech production of solar equipment is being exported. Researchers are working to increase the efficiency of solar equipment and bring down the costs so that the Czech Republic could soon compete with its neighbours who are more advanced in the use of solar energy.