26 March 2010


Czech PV market in danger due to new Ministerial Decree

Unavailability of highly efficient solar modules

At this moment, it seems impossible for Czech solar companies to purchase crystalline modules with efficiency over 22% as requested by MIT. The only option is to look for CPV modules which have efficiencies over 25%. However, such solar systems are best suited for usage in desert areas (such as Nevada or central Spain), and not the Czech Republic where there is a shortage of direct sunshine and where such systems will not work well.

Another blow for struggling Czech solar companies

From the beginning of February 2010, all three Czech power distribution companies (CEZ, E.ON and PRE) stopped connecting any new PV plants to their grids. As a result of this, many small and medium solar installation and merchant companies in the Czech Republic have lost their customers, and are unable to win new orders. Many Czech solar installers have been losing business and are extremely worried about their future.

Currently, it is not permitted to connect even the smallest rooftop PV installations to the grid in the Czech Republic. This means that the Czech Republic is probably the only country in the European Union which prevents its citizens from cutting their electricity bills by installing small PV plants on their roofs. Moreover, many Czech citizens will not be able to invest in new CPV projects since they are more expensive than conventional crystalline PV plants.

The new MIT decree will deal another big blow to Czech solar companies since they will not be able to implement new solar projects with output over 20 kWh. This rigorous requirement on the part of the Czech MIT - which is without parallel in the entire EU - will be seriously damaging not only to Czech citizens, but to Czech solar companies too which may be soon forced to lose employees. Currently, over 2,000 jobs are in jeopardy, and will be lost if the new MIT decree is applied in the Czech Republic. Investments in Czech solar power plants endangered Assuming that the new MIT decree becomes effective from 1 May 2010, it will have a fundamental impact on planned investments in PV plants in the Czech Republic on the part of many domestic and foreign investors. Unless these investors have valid construction permits (issued before 1 May), they will be obliged to follow the new Czech MIT decree.

Consequently, these investors will have to alter their business plans, i.e. either they will have to purchase new CPV modules (no other modules will be allowed) or fully forsake their investments in the Czech Republic. Since many investors had not prepared well in advance for such a measure, they are likely to be hurt by the Czech MIT’s actions.

Do Solar Power Plants cause a "Blackout"?

Solar power plants will not cause a “blackout” According to an analysis conducted by two independent and renowned companies – EGU Praha Engineering a.s. [1] and Protection & Consulting s.r.o. [2], there is no real danger of a “blackout” in the Czech Republic brought about by erratic output from solar plants, even if their total output were to double during 2010.

In this respect, Mr. Jaroslav Pospisil – CEO of the leading Czech solar integrator Protection & Consulting s.r.o. [3] – proclaimed that there are no reasonable grounds for imposing any technical limitation on grid connections with new PV plants with output up to 500 kWp. Moreover, the power grid operators should also accept the connection of utility ground-mounted PV plants with output between 1-3 MWp. The only big issues are giant PV plants with output over 15 MWp.

Czech distribution companies breaking the law in force According to a legal analysis conducted by the law firm AK Sikola a partneri s.r.o. [4], there is no legal reason for not connecting new PV plants to the distribution grids. Distribution grid operators are obliged to connect any PV plant which complies with all technical conditions determined by respective grid operators in the Czech Republic.

However, none of the Czech distribution grid operators (CEZ, E.ON and PRE) currently allows grid connections of new PV plants. This is a clear violation of the law in force. Czech distribution companies are bound to connect all PV plants preferentially, with the exception of shortages of grid capacity or in the case of a grid malfunction. 

New versus 'old energetics'

What is really behind the anti-PV campaign in the Czech Republic? Mr. Rehak – Chairman of the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association (CZEPHO) - proclaimed last week that the real cause of the ban on grid connections for new PV plants was related purely to the competitive situation. By this, he meant that the whole issue was a typical example of a conflict between the “new green energetics” represented by PV plants on the one hand, and “the old energetics” represented by coal-fired power plants on the other.

The fact is that the Czech monopolistic power producer CEZ lost market share in power production in 2009. The reason is the dynamic development of PV plants in the Czech Republic. It is possible that other operators of coal-powered plants feel equally endangered because of the “new solar phenomenon” in the Czech Republic.

The fate of the Czech photovoltaics market seems to be in the hands of Czech politicians. Last week, the Czech Parliament approved a new bill which will enable it to scale back solar subsidies in the Czech Republic from 2011. This new bill was greatly welcomed by CZEPHO members. But unless the new PV plants are allowed to connect to the grid, the future for many Czech solar companies and their employees remains very uncertain.

Author: Jaroslav Dorda,, Email: [email protected]





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