With its “CLEW Guide” series, the Clean Energy Wire newsroom and contributors from across Europe are providing journalists with a bird's-eye view of the climate-friendly transition from key countries and the bloc as a whole. You can also sign up to the weekly newsletter here to receive our "Dispatch from..." – weekly updates from Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Poland and the EU on the need-to-know about the continent’s move to climate neutrality.
- Thanks mainly to its large hydropower plants, Croatia has a significant share of renewable energy in electricity production. Due to persistent rainy weather, in the first five months of 2023 the share stood at 75.9 percent. As hydropower is an extremely variable energy source, the country also has to depend on its thermal power plants or on energy imports. In 2022, when rainfall was much lower, the share of hydropower in energy production was 25 percent.
- Croatia currently imports energy (100 percent of its coal, 40 percent of gas and 80 percent of oil needs) and has been particularly vulnerable to the rise in fossil fuel prices.
- In 2021, approximated domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Croatia were 23.3 MtCO2-eq, 2.1 percent lower compared to 2020 and 5.6 percent below pre-pandemic levels. Overall, net domestic emissions, including the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, were 41.9 percent lower than in 1990.
- Croatia’s 2030 National Energy and Climate Plan aims at a 36.4 percent share of renewable energy by 2030 and a 45 percent drop in emissions. The plan is currently being updated with new targets.
- Croatia is among the EU member states highly vulnerable to climate risks. Nearly a quarter of the economy is based on sectors potentially vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather, including agriculture and tourism.
- The country invests in gas infrastructure, aiming to be a regional hub for U.S. gas imports. An investment totalling 180 million euros in expanding the capacity of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk is planned along with the building of a new gas pipeline.
- 2024 is touted to be a “super-election” year in Croatia with the European Parliament elections in May followed by parliamentary and presidential votes later in the year. Although economic issues are expected to dominate the political campaigns, some parties, for example the left-wing green party Možemo, announced that the green energy transition will be the focus of their campaigns.
Major transition stories
- Energy independent islands – In 2020, Croatia initiated the signing of the Memorandum of Split (memorandum of understanding implementing the Valletta Political Declaration on Clean Energy for European Union Islands), which aims to improve the energy transition on the islands. The document ensures detailed support to the islands in preparing their strategies for the process of transition to clean energy and cooperation of energy communities on the islands. The biggest island in Croatia, Krk, has been aiming to become one of the first energy independent and CO2 neutral islands in the Mediterranean.
- Hydrogen Valley – Croatia is part of the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project with Slovenia and Italy. The project started in September 2023 and features 17 pilot projects for the production of more than 5,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year from renewable energy sources and its storage, distribution and use.
- Use of geothermal energy – Northern Croatia is abundant with geothermal energy, a potential which has so far been scarcely used but the energy crisis has enticed many local communities to start local projects, which are mostly in research phases. For example, Bjelovar plans to heat the whole town with geothermal energy.
- Solar potential – The country has one of the highest insolations in the EU, between 2,000 and 2,700 hours of sunshine a year. According to analysts from the association SolarPower Europe, Croatia has the potential and opportunity to install up to 7 GW of solar power by 2030 (a few hundred MW installed today). In 2022, solar power plants generated 79 GWh of electricity, or a mere 0.43 percent of all available energy, making Croatia Europe’s laggard in solar energy utilisation. According to HEP (Croatian public company for energy production and distribution), by the end of February 2023, the total capacity of the installed solar power plants was 30.9 MW. One of the reasons is that Croatia is the slowest among the 12 European Union member countries in Ember’s recent report in permitting onshore wind and solar projects.
- Electrification of marine transport – Croatia used to have an important shipbuilding industry, and now starts building electric marine vehicles. A zero emission passenger sailing ship is being built in Split. iCat company is producing solar electric catamarans. Pearlsea Yachts is producing the country’s first electric speedboat. Jadroplov company has designed one of the largest ferries in the Adriatic, which would be able to transport a thousand passengers and 400 vehicles on electric power if they are able to resolve financing.
- Energy storage in development - Croatia’s first large battery energy storage system should be built by 2024 in Šibenik. The project, which has been subsidised from EU funds, is going to be the biggest in South-East Europe.
- Emissions from energy supply in 2021 contributed 22.11 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
- Croatia still imports significant amounts of energy (it imported 55 percent of the energy it consumed in 2021). According to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, in 2020, petroleum products represented 32.8 percent of the country’s imports, followed by crude oil (27.0 percent), natural gas (24.3 percent), electricity (8.3 percent), coal and coke (6.1 percent), and wood and biomass (1.5 percent).
- According to data from public company Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP), 28 percent of electricity was imported in 2022. In order to domestically produce such a quantity of electric energy, the country would need about 2,000 MW of solar power plants or an additional 1,000 MW of new wind farms, the economic and interest association Renewable Energy Sources of Croatia said.
- Croatia owns half of the Krško nuclear plant, which is located in Slovenia. The plant was scheduled to close in 2023 but its lifetime has been extended for 20 more years, until 2043. It is counted under imports in the energy mix statistics.
- Plomin, Croatia’s only coal power plant, is to be closed by 2033 the latest.
- The energy crisis fuelled by Russia’s war on Ukraine prompted plans by the Croatian government to enlarge the capacity of the LNG terminal on Krk island. The terminal was opened with EU support in 2021 and the enlargement is expected to be completed by 2025.
- According to an independent report, Croatia could exit gas by 2035.
- The wind power plants’ output in 2022 was 2.3 TWh, or 12.5 percent of the country’s electricity consumption.
- Croatia’s offshore wind potential is estimated at 25 GW but it has not been developed yet.
- Responsible for 31.68 percent of total GHG emissions.
- After Croatia achieved independence in 1991, industrial production has declined and tourism has developed. Today, tourism is the country’s most important source of economic growth. Major industries include shipbuilding, construction, petrochemicals and food processing.
- Croatia plans to use green hydrogen in decarbonising its industry. In 2022, the country adopted a national strategy for hydrogen by 2050 with the aim of increasing the production of renewable hydrogen, promoting its use in the economy and decreasing GHG emissions.
- According to one report, the industry sector could replace gas and coal with electricity, renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels by 2035.
- The sector is responsible for 13.8 percent of total emissions.
- In Croatia, 42.3 percent of total energy is consumed in buildings. About 62 percent of this energy is spent on space heating, 15 percent on lighting and electrical devices, 12 percent on cooking and 11 percent on preparing hot water in households.
- The Long-Term Strategy for the Reconstruction of the National Building Stock by 2050 plans to transform the existing building stock into a highly efficient one by 2050. This means increasing the renovation rate from the current 0.7 percent per year to 3 percent in 2030, then to 3.5 percent from 2031 to 2040 and to 4 percent from 2041 to 2050.
- Since 2020, all new buildings must meet the requirements for Nearly Zero Emissions Buildings.
- According to an analysis by Croatia Green Building Council (CGBC), Croatia lacks 24,500 qualified workers who could work on energy renovation of buildings. The education of workers about energy-efficient technologies is one of the biggest challenges for the achievement of energy and climate goals by 2030.
- In 2021, the transport sector was responsible for 32.92 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in Croatia.
- In transport energy consumption, the largest share, more than 90 percent, is represented by road transport.
- One of the obstacles to cleaner transport is the average age of passenger vehicles, which is more than 12 years. For comparison, the newest passenger cars can be found in Luxembourg (7.6 years).
- While Croatia subsidises the purchase of electric vehicles since 2014, the overall share of EVs is still low.
- The country’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) points out the key role of biofuels and electromobility. The 2030 targets include a 13.2 percent share of renewable energy sources in the transport sector’s final energy consumption. In 2030, 3.5 percent of total road passenger activity is projected to be via hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
- Croatia has announced plans to invest more than 4 billion euros in rail infrastructure over the next ten years. Twenty-five major infrastructure projects are being implemented, 16 of which are co-financed by the European Union.
- The agriculture sector contributed 14.20 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021.
- Mineral fertilisers are the main source of nitrous oxide emissions – another potent greenhouse gas (29 percent of sector N2O emissions and 15 percent of total sector emissions) along with methane emissions from livestock farming (46 percent of total sector emissions).
Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)
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