Czech Utility CEZ To Invest Billions In Renewables, Outside The Country

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Originally published on Renewables International.
By Craig Morris

The Czech utility aims to invest 2.2 billion euros in renewable energy – outside the country. It is another example of a utility going renewable outside of its own territory.

Few details are available at present, but CEZ has announced a major investment budget for renewables and other “new energy” from 2016 to 2020. According to a brief press release, the utility will increase its renewable generation capacity threefold from 800 to 2,400 megawatts.

The focus might be on eastern Europe, but also Germany.

On Twitter, the firm speaks of the “European market.” My sources on the ground confirm that foreign investments are indeed what’s expected.

Pardon my French, but this is pretty effed up: how the hell do you DROP from 2,132 to 2,067 MW of solar? Lots of room here for wind power as well…

There is, of course, nothing bad about a big utility going renewable. On the other hand, we don’t exactly lack utilities in Europe that want to build giant wind farms and solar projects in each others territory, not their own. Because the power market is finite, one company’s share of the pie comes at the expense of another’s. Specifically, utility projects will begin pushing back community efforts in countries that have community renewables.


It is noteworthy that CEZ apparently aims to do business outside of its own territory, perhaps even predominantly (these details are still unclear). The Czech Republic is pushing back hard against renewables at home. But utilities everywhere prefer anyway to compete with third-party assets, not their own. The result in this case will probably be further stagnation of renewables in the Czech Republic while the CEZ competes with Eon, EDF, RWE and Co. (competing with community projects) elsewhere. CEZ works with Aquila Capital in Germany, for instance, on wind farms.

… like the German utilities at the bottom of the previous chart , CEZ has bet on the wrong horses. CEZ, your number is coming up, too.

CEZ is not doing that poorly financially but probably needs to expand its portfolio. Moody’s downgraded the firm to Baa1 at the beginning of the month. The utility also recently backed out of a bid for Vattenfall’s lignite assets in Germany.

The clock is ticking.

Of course, not all countries have community renewable energy. CEZ is also investing in wind power in Romania. But even in such cases, the market slowly closes for Romanian citizens and communities that might wish to start making their own energy.

You’re late…

The government in Prague is probably not worried about community renewables at home. And by the way, you can now call the Czech Republic “Czechia.” This month, Czech citizens (Czechians?) woke up to the news that their government had decided for them without any consultation or discussion that the country would have a new brand in English. Citizens were surprised at the news, which reminded them of the breakup of the former Czechoslovakia – a move pushed through by top politicians who did not consult the public or react to the obvious public resistance. Friends of mine in Germany from the Czech Republic and Slovakia say they do not understand why their countries split apart. They still speak with each other in one tongue. Prague, time for some democracy?

Reprinted with permission.

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4 thoughts on “Czech Utility CEZ To Invest Billions In Renewables, Outside The Country

  • I read a long essay on why Czechia and Slovakia broke apart. Basically, it was due to arrogance by the Czech government, which was dismissive and refused to listen to any ideas, complaints, plans, or desires from Slovakian representatives in Parliament — even ideas which they *agreed* with. A bizarre situation.

    • Hello from CZ. The Czechoslowakia was a marriage of convenience in 1918. Czechs needed bigger majority against German speaking part of the population and Slowakians needed a bro to grow up as a nation after being 1000 years part of the Hungarian kingdom (multiethnical by definition, with Latin as an official language) and more than half of the century of brutal cultural and language pressure from Hungarian nationalists.
      “The divorce” was something like when middle-aged couple who raised their children realizes that they are not in love anymore and they would prefer to live on their own. So, they quit and split their properties in a good faith and stay friends.

      • Hello from SK. I can confirm all Jan said. And I’d add I personally was against this divorce, because of too much collateral damages.

  • We live in the regulatory capture and the ČEZ is protecting its assets. Any energy transition may happen only as a combination of an outside (EU) pressure and the DIY nature of my fellow countrymen. They would simply make their improvised, bottom up, transition while ignoring plans of those big boys.
    Same as it happened with former telecom monopoly during an internet “revolution”.

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