How can Czech organisations make the most of their renewable generation assets? Here’s a review of energy storage in the Czech market.
Q&A with Patrik Pinkoš, Lead Sales Engineer at Wattstor Czech Republic
With coal dominating the energy mix, the Czech Republic has traditionally enjoyed low electricity prices and a steady supply of domestic fuel. However, the recent energy crisis, together with pressure from stakeholders and regulatory bodies to decarbonise, has triggered an unprecedented shift in the country’s energy market.
Between 2019 and 2020, coal production decreased by 24%. This downward trajectory continues as the country rapidly increases its installed renewable generation capacity. But as onsite generation and energy efficiency initiatives become widespread, how can Czech organisations make the most of their renewable generation assets?
We discussed this with Patrick Pinkoš, Lead Sales Engineer at Wattstor Czech Republic.
What makes the Czech Republic an interesting country for renewable energy projects?
The timing is right in the Czech Republic to accelerate the clean energy transition. Countries worldwide are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint, and the Czech Republic is no exception. There is a huge potential for solar installations, with ideal climate conditions and substantial funding coming from the EU.
The situation is similar in other areas of Central and Eastern Europe, where Wattstor has already completed a number of successful renewable energy installations – such as Poland, Croatia and Slovakia.
The high penetration of renewable generation projects in the region could deliver a large amount of clean energy and really accelerate the journey to net zero, but at the moment Czech companies are we’re not in a position to reap the full benefits of solar and other renewable energy sources. To do so, battery storage will be essential. By coupling onsite generation with battery energy storage systems (BESS), organisations will be able to really monetise their renewable energy assets.
What triggered the fast growth of renewables in the Czech Republic?
Historically, the country has enjoyed very low energy costs thanks to a large domestic coal supply. So, there was minimal motivation to invest in cleaner energy sources.
However, this changed with the current energy crisis. Unlike other European countries, the Czech Government has traditionally relied on the market to self-regulate, avoiding state intervention. This means that as prices rose, consumers and businesses had to cope with higher energy bills.
In the second half of 2022 the Government approved a price cap for energy prices, but these were still much higher than in the past. As a result, companies started to be concerned about the volatility of wholesale prices and began to consider ways to become more self-sufficient and generate their own renewable energy.
At the same time, stakeholder and regulatory pressure encouraged Czech organisations to invest in renewable power.
There are several EU incentives to spur the growth of onsite generation. For example, the Modernisation Fund supports investments in energy efficiency, storage, network upgrades and the re-skilling of workers. The Fund covers up to 35% of the costs of commercial renewables projects, and up to 50% when battery storage is added. The subsidy increases to cover up to 75% of costs for community projects.
But what we noticed at Wattstor is that Czech businesses are investing in renewable projects even in the absence of subsidies, because they have realised the strong business case for generating clean energy on site.
What other economic factors are contributing to the growth of renewables in the region?
The Czech Republic is a manufacturing country, with a high exports rate to the EU and especially to Germany. Many global corporations are headquartered here, and export components for industries such as automotive and electronics.
This means that as EU manufacturers implement stricter net zero policies, they expect the same standards from suppliers in their extended supply chain. As a result, stakeholder pressure is further encouraging Czech manufacturers to reduce their Scope 2 emissions by investing in renewable energy.
Additionally, the price of energy consists of a commercial component, determined by suppliers, and a regulated part, which is managed by the state. The Energy Regulatory Office (ERU) proposed a significant increase in the regulated energy component for next year. For large customers, according to the proposal, the regulated part of the electricity price should increase by 113% year-on-year at the high voltage level, and by 206 percent at the very high voltage level.
How does Wattstor help Czech organisations navigate the energy transition?
Our innovative energy management system (EMS), Podium, allows companies to optimise their energy consumption and make the most of their renewable assets. Podium uses real-time market data so businesses can use electricity from the grid when demand is low and prices are favourable, and take advantage of electricity produced and stored on site at times of high demand. These operations are completely automated and require no human intervention, giving businesses total peace of mind.
But we offer more than that. Our industry-leading expertise allows us to work together with our customers to design and commission complete energy systems – including renewable generation assets, battery storage, and a market leading EMS. Our expertise means that energy systems can be tailored to match the specific needs of I&C businesses, which normally require ad-hoc solutions for large-scale projects.
We also have a proven track record of success, having implemented over 100 projects, with over 60MWh in storage managed by Podium across the UK and the Czech Republic.
With an abundance of funding and strong stakeholder and regulatory support, why aren’t renewable projects even more widespread? What is the main challenge Czech entrepreneurs are facing?
The quality of work is a major challenge. The renewable energy market is booming, and many suppliers see an opportunity to enter this space and make a quick profit. But unfortunately, not all provide quality components, and not all have the expertise and know-how to consult clients in a way that allows them to achieve the best possible results.
This is what sets Wattstor apart. Our expert engineers have the background and expertise to competently advise our customers. Plus, we have a proven track record of success, with many successful installations both in the UK and the Czech Republic.
For example, in the UK we recently worked with pharmaceutical distributor, Mawdsleys, to maximise the installed capacity of their rooftop solar panels. Because of grid constraints, Mawdsleys’ solar panels could only generate about 40% of the plant’s required power. But after the installation of Wattstor’s DC/Dc converter and EMS, Mawdsleys can generate the energy it needs to power its operations, plus an extra 25%. The surplus power is now sold to the national grid, but will be used in the future to power EV trucks.
In the Czech Republic, we are currently implementing a 1MW/ 2MWh project for Hennlich, among many others. Previously, we helped the country’s leading wood processing plant to reduce their energy costs, implementing our EMS and BESS solution in only 18 days. We designed a bespoke EMS and created a tailored BESS to ensure maximum return on the company’s solar panels, cutting energy bills by 75% and ensuring a payback period of only three years.
This proves that when companies rely on trusted experts, the results of renewable energy projects can be truly exceptional – allowing businesses to take control of their energy while contributing to a greener tomorrow.
For more information about Wattstor’s energy management service, get in touch with our team.
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