Solar power is starting to dominate the renewable energy market according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), but wind power is also experiencing a boom. Experts from the Czech Academy of Sciences believe that it could produce up to a quarter of the power consumption in the Czech Republic by 2040.
The IEA expects renewables to overtake gas and coal as the primary source of world energy by the year 2025, with wind power being an important component. Furthermore, the price of energy from this source is likely to get cheaper as technologies and markets develop further.
Currently, there are 200 wind turbines in the Czech Republic. Altogether they are capable of producing just 1 percent of the nation’s energy consumption. However, their number is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades, says David Hanslian from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Czech Academy of Sciences, who presented his study on the subject to the Chamber of Renewable Energy and the Czech Wind Energy Association earlier this year.
“By the year 2040, wind power could account for 10 to 25 percent of energy use in the Czech Republic, provided that we see a simultaneous rise in consumption.”
Neighbouring Austria and Germany have already shown that wind power can be an important source of power. However, according to Dr. Hanslian, Czechs still look at wind power plants unfavourably, which in turn leads to lacking political support.
“The biggest barrier is in the minds of the population. It is very much about the way we talk about wind energy and the types of associated topics we focus on in our public discussion. We focus mainly on the negatives but forget that wind power is one of the cleanest sources of energy.”
One of the fears is the damage that wind turbines can inflict on bird and bat populations, but Dr. Hanslian says his estimate takes these potential issues into account.
“It is normal that wind power plants can operate, but limitations are set in order to protect wildlife populations. One example are bats. Wind turbines are switched off during nights where bat flight is expected. Luckily, these animals do not fly when wind speeds are high and they like warm air, so you only really have to turn off the plant on windless summer nights.”
Bans on construction are also accounted for in his estimate, which excludes the building of wind turbines in protected environments and high population density areas. He says the most ideal conditions for wind power plants in the country can be found in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, located in the centre of the country.
According to Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček, the Czech state plans to invest CZK 355 billion into renewables by the year 2050. On Friday, the Coal Commission, which is looking into the gradual elimination of coal power plants in the country, approved a plan that would see this goal achieved by 2038.