The volunteer fire brigade in Špičkovina will install a solar power plant with a peak capacity of 64 kW on its roof. The idea is to generate electricity for all citizens who decide to become co-owners of the facility and primarily for the firefighters themselves. The village is in the territory of Zabok, a town near Croatia’s capital Zagreb.
The solar power plant will be owned by the Dobrovoljno Vatrogasno Društvo Špičkovina (DVD Špičkovina) energy community – the first in Croatia. The concept was introduced in the country’s regulatory framework two years ago, but not a single energy community has been established until now.
The setting up of the DVD Špičkovina energy community is part of the European project SHAREs, implemented by the North-West Croatia Regional Energy and Climate Agency (REGEA).
REGEA said the solar power plant is expected to start producing and sharing electricity by the end of 2023. The energy community is currently receiving applications from its members and working on a contract template.
Croatia is late in truly opening the energy market for citizens
According to the REGEA, energy communities of citizens are a relatively new concept, which received official recognition under the Clean Energy for All Europeans package in 2029.
Energy communities are also considered one of the key elements for achieving the goals of the European Union’s energy transition by 2050.
Even though Croatia formally allowed the establishment of such groups, they haven’t flourished yet and the energy market is yet to be opened for citizens, REGEA said.
Mayor Hanžek: Model and inspiration for other cities
According to REGEA, the local authority in Zabok has recognized the importance of the project, so it will co-finance the investment and increase its profitability for the local community.
Mayor Ivan Hanžek stated that for many years the town’s energy policy was based on sustainable energy development. The municipal government gladly accepted REGEA’s invitation to participate in the SHAREs project with a pilot project – the DVD Špičkovina energy community, he added.
Its establishment, in his words, will bring a number of benefits and advantages both for the town and the local community and the entire country.
The establishment of two more energy communities is underway
Zabok will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and imported energy products and cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the mayor. The involvement of citizens and small firms in the production and distribution of energy will also create new business opportunities, encourage employment, and lower energy bills for citizens and firms, Hanžek said.
It all improves energy security and the local community’s stability, he claimed.
Hanžek expressed the belief that the establishment of the first energy community in Croatia would serve as a model and inspiration for other cities and communities to follow a similar approach to sustainable energy development.
Domac: We all can or should be able to be both producers and consumers of energy
Zabok is one of three local authorities in the country preparing to apply such an energy-sharing model – something similar will happen soon in Karlovac and Samobor, REGEA said.
Director of REGEA Julije Domac said energy communities are a great opportunity to open the energy market to citizens.
“We all can or should be able to be both producers and consumers of energy,” he said and added that energy communities are an important instrument for achieving a sustainable, secure, and economically prosperous energy future.