Croatia targets improvements demanded by renewables developers
Date: June 20th 2022
The failure of public institutions to respect existing legal deadlines is seen by renewables developers as the main obstacle to faster implementation of renewables projects in Croatia, but the economy ministry vows improvements this year.Maja Pokrovac, director of the OlEH association that gathers companies owning 80% of installed renewables-based power generation capacity in Croatia, underscored four factors that are hampering development of solar and wind projects in the country.
“One obstacle is slow adoption of urban plans and the mutual incompatibility of urban plans between various counties. Another problem hampering the implementation of the projects is the connection price, as investors must also invest in infrastructure, which should be done by system operators as stipulated in the law governing the electricity market,” Pokrovac told Montel in an e-mailed interview on Friday.
She added that an unclear methodology for calculating the grid connection price is also a major impediment.
“We are still waiting for the new methodology which should be the basis for calculating the connection price. This situation creates legal uncertainty for an investor who is developing a project but does not have a clear picture about the future price,” Pokrovac said.
The duration of the environmental impact assessment procedure is an additional difficulty, as institutions do not observe the one-month deadline stipulated by law and the procedures can be extended to as much as eight months, Pokrovac added.
She sees the slow process for obtaining planning and construction permits as another problem because it can take more than one year, while the legal deadline for obtaining a planning permit is 30 days.
“During that period the validity of an energy approval, which is issued for five years, gets shorter and investors often ask themselves whether they will be able to gather all necessary documents and approvals by the time the energy approval expires,” Pokrovac said.
An energy approval is a document issued by the economy ministry to complement the study on the optimal technical connection solution.
However, the economy ministry has vowed to make the necessary improvements. Ivo Milatic, the ministry’s state secretary, said earlier this month at an energy conference in the southern coastal city of Dubrovnik that they would fine tune certain rules until the end of the year in an effort to accelerate renewable energy projects.
“The economy ministry, the Croatian energy regulatory agency (Hera), the state power company HEP as the distribution system operator and the Croatian transmission system operator (Hops) will adopt a number of enabling regulations which will provide clarity in conditions for grid connections and operation of plants on the grid as well as planning and redispatching obligations,” the economy ministry told Montel in an e-mailed response on Friday.
Thus, the economy ministry noted that it will not be possible for the power grid to limit the development of projects.
“Based on the new electricity market law, the new regulation will include an unambiguous procedure for posting the energy approval tenders for projects included in urban plans,” it added.
Croatia at the moment has around 1,100 MW of installed solar and wind power capacity, while it should reach more than 3,000 MW by 2030, according to the government's energy development strategy.
“If we do not meet the basic condition that public institutions respect legal deadlines, we will have much less installed capacity and will have to continue importing expensive energy,” Pokrovac said.