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16 February 2010

Czech Power Grid Says Solar Boom Risks Blackouts

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CEPS AS, the Czech electricity-grid operator, said the pace of solar-power investment risks overloading the network and driving up prices for consumers.

Output from solar panels may overwhelm the grid by 2011 and plants may need to be temporarily disconnected to prevent blackouts, CEPS Chief Executive Officer Petr Zeman said today. Total solar capacity may reach 3,000 megawatts in 2015, six times last year’s level and about half the country’s off-peak consumption at summer weekends, the state-run company said.

Czech power producers receive the highest prices in Europe for solar energy, guaranteed by law at 12 koruna ($0.63) a kilowatt-hour, CEPS said. A bill currently in parliament would cut the so-called feed-in tariff for new projects, which has led to a rush of applications from investors hoping to get permits under the existing conditions.

With solar feed-in tariffs about 10 times higher than the cost of power generation at nuclear plants run by state-owned CEZ AS, the solar boom also threatens to push up prices for consumers, according to CEPS board member Miroslav Vrba.


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