Croatia has around four million inhabitants and rich potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency. In 2020 the country imported 53.6 per cent of its total primary energy supply, close to an EU average of 57.5 per cent. Croatia produces oil and gas but unlike most of its Western Balkan neighbours, it no longer has its own coal reserves.
Croatia is somewhat dependent on electricity imports, depending on hydrological conditions. However this is partly due to the fact that the 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.
Most of Croatia’s electricity generation capacity is owned by Hrvatska Elektroprivreda, the state-owned electricity group, though with an increasing number of privately-owned renewables facilities – primarily wind farms.
In 2020, 32 per cent of Croatia’s total electricity came from hydropower, 19 per cent from gas, nearly seven per cent from coal, 9.5 per cent from wind, 5.5 per cent from biomass and less than one per cent each for solar, geothermal and oil. If we assume that Croatia was able to utilise half of Krško’s 2020 output, then this made up 17 per cent of its total electricity consumption, with a further eight per cent coming from additional imports.
Croatia electricity generation, 2010-2020
Source: IEA Statistics
Although Croatia has made some progress in using its wind potential, solar and solar thermal are underused compared to the obvious potential in this very sunny country. ry.
|IRENA Cost-competitive potential||3173 MW
|SEERMAP Decarbonisation scenario (2050 minus 2016)||1839 MW
|SEE-SEP The EU Road scenario||6950 MW
Renewables development was for years held back by low feed-in tariff quotas for solar. In line with EU State aid rules, Croatia has now switched to auctioning and feed-in premiums rather than feed-in tariffs, but delays in adopting the implementing legislation and adopting new energy and climate strategies created uncertainty for several years and slowed both wind and solar development.
Much time and resources have also been lost on pushing outdated projects such as the 500 MW Plomin C coal power plant, to be run on imported coal, the 450 MW Peruća gas power plant, and large-scale hydropower projects in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 have now been cancelled after civil society campaigns highlighted their weaknesses, while HEP is persisting with the latter. A highly unpopular and weakly justified floating LNG terminal on the island of Krk, with financial support from the EU, also started operating in early 2021.
In November 2021 at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Croatia’s Prime Minister announced a coal phase-out date of 2033 at the latest. In reality, it is likely to happen much earlier. Croatia only has one remaining coal plant, the 210 MW Plomin 2, which runs on imported coal, and with carbon prices expected to keep rising in the coming years, it is highly unlikely that it will remain economic to operate it until 2033.
Croatia still has plenty of potential for energy efficiency improvements, especially in the residential sector, though it has made some progress. As of 2020, its energy intensity was still 1.5 times the EU-28 average.
For a more in-depth look at barriers to a sustainable energy transition in Croatia and our proposals for how to overcome them, see our 2021 study with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: The Political Economy of Energy Transition in Southeast Europe – Barriers and Obstacles.
More on coal in the Balkans
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A new study shows that the city’s district heating can come from fully renewable sources.
Bosnia and Herzegovina illegally extends lifetimes of deadly coal plants
Yesterday the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Parliament voted to extend the lifetime of the antiquated Tuzla 4 and Kakanj 5 coal units, in clear breach of the Energy Community Treaty. The move condemns the public to yet more lethal air pollution.
The heroic dust monitor
This year we are marking five years since Bankwatch engaged in air pollution work in the Balkans. Throughout these years, there was one constant in the work – the environmental dust monitor. It has become the hero of many communities and is known to every organisation in the region that works for cleaner air.