Renewables

Croatia greenlights HEP’s 9.9 MW solar power project but requests piled up

Croatia greenlights HEP 9.9 MW Donja Dubrava solar power requests piled up

Photo: Mariana Proença on Unsplash

Published

October 10, 2022

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Published:

October 10, 2022

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The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Croatia has issued the energy approval for a 9.9 MW photovoltaic facility planned by state-owned utility HEP, set to become the country’s biggest. However, it is the only final response it gave so far for a group of 216 projects filed in February.

The procedure for energy approvals for power plants must be immediately accelerated as Croatia could otherwise lose projects in the renewables sector, according to Maja Pokrovac. The managing director of the Renewable Energy Sources of Croatia (RES Croatia) association told Jutarnji list that investors would switch the funds at their disposal to countries where there is clarity if they are kept waiting much longer.

Only ten out of 216 projects were fully processed

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development told the news outlet that it fully processed only ten applications out of 216 that were filed in February and that it issued only one energy approval so far for the best offer for a unit. It is for the Donja Dubrava solar power plant, a project developed by state-owned utility Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP Group).

The facility with a planned connection of 9.9 MW would currently be the biggest in the country. The Donja Dubrava site is in Sveta Marija in the country’s north. The solar power plant is supposed to have 12.35 MW in peak capacity.

The remaining decisions will be posted on the ministry’s website, according to the statement. It noted that it published 10 public calls so far for applications for energy approvals.

HEP Group leads in number of renewable energy projects for sites on public land

Most of the 216 projects, with a combined capacity of 6 GW, belong to HEP Group. There are 16 for solar power plants including Donja Dubrava, three are plans for wind power plants and one is for a cogeneration facility. Nautilus Technology is next on the list, with 12 solar power plants, followed by RP Global projekti with six photovoltaic endeavors and two wind farms.

Dozens of applications were filed incomplete

Acciona energija applied for the biggest individual power plant in the group, the 150 MW Promina photovoltaic facility.

The ministry said several dozen expressions of interest didn’t include valid documentation and that projects don’t comply with the Electricity Market Act. However, it added it didn’t reject any applications yet and that it still needs to process all requests. The ministry revealed it would continue to issue public calls within two weeks.

The 216 applications are for projects on land owned by the government or municipal authorities. They are supposed to undergo a competitive procedure but the said law also allows for the energy approval to be issued without bidding.

Pokrovac: No progress without bylaws

Maja Pokrovac said the energy approval system won’t be able to work without necessary bylaws. She pointed out that the operators of the transmission and distribution systems still didn’t issue the regulations for grid connection. Another element missing from the framework is the price, which is supposed to be determined from a methodology that the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA) is obligated to issue, the head of RES Croatia stressed.

Croatia is the slowest among the 12 European Union member countries from Ember’s recent study on permitting speed for onshore wind and solar projects.

Of note, the ministry recently issued notes on requests to determine the need for environmental impact assessment studies for solar power projects Ljubovitica of 50 MW, developed by VoxEnergiae from Zagreb, and Enna, which is run by Deuterij, also from Croatia’s capital city. Both sites are in the Split-Dalmatia county. The ministry also published documents advancing several large photovoltaic projects.

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