grid connection rules threaten projects worth EUR 1.5 billion

The Renewable Energy Sources of Croatia association (RES Croatia or OIEH) has warned that the new grid connection rules set by Croatia’s transmission system operator HOPS threaten the development of projects worth an overall EUR 1.5 billion.

The question is when and if they can be implemented at all because of the restrictive rules that block the development of renewables, RES Croatia said and called the government to act urgently and abolish them.

RES Croatia says it took HOPS two years to publish the transmission network connection rules and that they are extending the period of issuance of necessary permits by almost two years.

It will take 1.5 years just to get a connection

Investors will have to wait between nine and 12 months to obtain the electricity approval (EES), a condition for obtaining a location permit. It will take 90 days for the elaboration on the possibility of connection (EMP), while the production of the report on the optimal technical solution for the connection (EOTRP) will last another five to eight months.

The association pointed to the European Union’s guidance that all required permits for the start of construction works have to be issued within two years, while now the investors will need a year and a half just for the grid connection procedure.

HOPS didn’t develop the grid fast enough

It is not certain when or how much electricity HOPS will offtake from renewable energy producers, and, it also has the right to disconnect power plants from the grid at any time.

HOPS didn’t develop the transmission network grid fast enough, and now it additionally absolves itself of responsibility by rolling out extremely discriminatory and arbitrary mechanisms for stifling or even disconnecting producers from the grid, without having to pay them damages, RES Croatia stressed.

The situation is completely different in other EU member states

The association claims that with such rules no financial institution would approve a loan for a renewables project, arguing that it wouldn’t know how much electricity the project would supply and what the return on the investment would be.

RES Croatia pointed out that in developed EU countries, TSOs bear the financial burden of disconnecting power plants from the grid, and added that the costs are a strong incentive for an operator to optimize its activities: when to upgrade the grid and when to cut a power plant off.

Back to chaos

The association emphasized that HOPS is also introducing a discriminatory rule that an investor can request data on the state of the transmission network only once a year. If it fails to do so in the period from May 1 to May 15, it loses the entire year.

RES Croatia noted that the Law on the Electricity Market, adopted in 2021, determines that only projects with the energy approval (EO) obtained, which is the first step in project development, can request a grid connection. It was a good step, as the capacity in the requests was soon halved from 12,000 MW, according to the statement.

Croatia is starting to block renewable energy deployment

“Unfortunately, after HOPS issued the connection rules, we are returning to a chaotic situation,” RES Croatia said.

According to the association, the rules came at a time when the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and State Property is adopting a legislative framework that accelerates and simplifies the development of solar energy, especially agrisolar.

HOPS’s rules are, however, offsetting almost all progress, RES Croatia claimed.

The association is convinced that because of the new rules, Croatia is joining the countries that are blocking the development of renewable energy.

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