Croatia has around 4.28 million inhabitants and rich potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency. In 2016 the country produced 57.3 percent of its total primary energy supply, including around 20 percent of the oil it consumes, and around two thirds of natural gas. Unlike most of its Western Balkan neighbours it no longer has its own coal reserves.
Croatia produces only about half of its own electricity, depending on hydrological conditions. Most of the electricity generation capacity is owned by Hrvatska Elektroprivreda, the state-owned electricity group. In 2015, 57% of domestically generated electricity came from hydropower, 20% from coal, 12.4% from oil/gas, 7% from wind, 2.3% from biomass and 0.5% from solar. In other words, non-hydropower renewables accounted for just under 10% of generation. Krsko nuclear power plant in Slovenia, of which HEP owns 50 percent, also contributes to Croatia’s electricity supply but is counted under imports in the statistics.
Electricity generation in Croatia, 2015, GWh
Although Croatia has made some progress in using its wind and solar PV potential in recent years, this there is still much more potential that has not been exploited. Solar thermal is also underused compared to the obvious potential in this very sunny country.
Decarbonisation scenario (2050 minus 2016)
The EU Road scenario
Renewables and energy efficiency development has been held back by a lack of political will resulting in small quotas for support for wind and especially solar. Croatia has not developed a new energy strategy since the over-ambitious and outdated 2009 one, so there has been no systematic debate about the country’s energy direction in recent years. In line with EU state aid rules, Croatia has now switched to auctioning and feed-in premiums rather than feed-in tariffs, but as of May 2018 had not approved the supporting legislation that would enable the system to function, this braking further development until this is resolved.
Much time and resources have also been lost on pushing outdated projects such as the 500 MW Plomin C coal power plant, to be run on imported coal, the 450 MW Peruća gas power plant, and large-scale hydropower projects in sensitive locations such as Ombla and Kosinj. The first three of these projects have now been cancelled after civil society campaigns highlighted their weaknesses. However a floating LNG terminal on the island of Krk is still planned, with support from the EU.
Croatia still has plenty of potential for energy efficiency improvements. Its energy intensity of total primary energy supply was 21.9 percent above the EU average in 2016. There is still plenty of work to be done to improve efficiency in the residential sector.
More on coal in the Balkans
Macedonia made headlines in December when the United Nations ranked its capital city, Skopje, as the most polluted capital city in Europe. If the ranking included non-capitals, it would not miss Novaci – a small village in the country’s south that also gasps for breath.
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