Croatia urged to act on its renewable energy potential

Vrataruša wind farm near Senj, Croatia. Photo credit: Croq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 – via Wikimedia.

By Anders Lorenzen

Croatia, the Balkan country probably most known for its beautiful Adriatic coastline, has been urged to fulfil its enormous renewable energy potential.

A report by Global Data, an analytical firm, has found that the country could ease its reliance on energy imports significantly, by expanding its renewable energy industry. Currently, Croatia imports all of its coal, 40% of its gas and 80% of its oil. 

Expanding renewables would also be a cost-cutting exercise, especially in the wake of the increase in the price of fossil fuels.

Global Data’s research found that looking at current projects and pipelines, Croatia will grow its onshore wind capacity to 1.99 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 which will exceed its target by 0.39 GW, while solar PV will be on target at 0.77 GW. This means that by 2030 Croatia’s electricity market will be getting 36.4% of its electricity from renewable sources.

An ideal exit strategy

Commenting on the Global Data report, Attaurrahman Ojindaram Saibasan, Power Analyst at Global Data, said: “Croatia’s investment into its wind and solar developments will help the country meet its renewable energy target of 36.4% of total consumption by 2030. Further development in this area would offer the country an ideal exit strategy to reduce its reliance on energy imports. Activities such as increasing its renewable efficiency, upgrading its grid infrastructure, and investing in energy storage solutions would allow the massive capacity overhaul required.”

The report outlined that even with this new expansion, the country will still not be producing as much energy as they consume. By 2035, electricity consumption is expected to have reached 20.1 TWh while generation would only be 19.2 TWh, presenting a clear deficit.  Unless these figures change, the country would continue to be reliant on expensive imports.

Dr Saibasan further explained that currently, Croatia’s mix consists of 30.9% thermal-based generation presenting a major challenge due to the low gas supply. He sees further investments in renewables as the only viable solution.

Adding that even though there’s a huge potential in the country for Solar PV due to the amount of sunshine the country receives, he says there are challenges due to the amount of land required, tricky in such a small country.  He said the answer may lie in the sea:  “Croatia may look to install floating solar PV plants in the Adriatic Sea to avoid land utilization by utility-scale solar PV projects. The country’s large-scale untapped renewable sector has also opened new opportunities for market players. The southwestern region of Croatia has a good amount of solar irradiation, for example. And Croatia’s largest state-owned power company HEP has announced plans to invest around $23 million annually until 2023, to install new capacity of 20 MW per year, as well as to complete 350 MW capacity by 2030.”  

As well as solar expansion, there’s a huge untapped wind power potential in the south as well as southwest of the coastal regions in the country. There’s also huge potential for geothermal energy in the north which could be used for both electricity generation and heating. In addition, as forests cover more than 30% of the country there’s significant potential for biomass.

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