19 Apr 2024, 15:00
Marina Kelava

Dispatch from Croatia

Photo: European Union.

A series of politically turbulent months for Croatia culminated with early parliamentary elections on 17 April. The short campaign didn’t leave much space for discussions on energy policy, but when asked, all the biggest parties claimed they support and would implement citizens’ renewable energy projects, while their opinions on gas and nuclear energy differ somewhat. Meanwhile, Greenpeace expressed concern over the government’s interest in investing in the Krško 2 nuclear power plant project in Slovenia, which is half-owned by Croatia, and its open support for the technology.

***Our weekly Dispatches provide an overview of the most relevant recent and upcoming developments for the shift to climate neutrality in selected European countries, from policy and diplomacy to society and industry.

For a bird's-eye view of the country's climate-friendly transition, read the respective 'Guide to'.***

Stories to watch in the weeks ahead

  • European parliamentary elections have fallen out of focus in Croatia as the early national parliament elections fixed the attention of all. The party in power, centre-right HDZ, won the most seats in parliament but not enough to form the government. They will now start negotiations for coalition partners but it is also possible that new elections will be necessary. It is not likely that the main oppositional party SDP will be able to form a government coalition. So far, energy and climate issues have only figured in debates when the parties have been asked directly, generally by NGOs, about their position. More below.
  • Which parties will form the next government, how will the parliament look for the next four years and who will be the new energy and climate minister is the most important story to watch in the weeks ahead. Energy magazine has asked major parties what their plans are for energy-related issues. While they all claim they would support citizens’ energy and renewable projects, most also support nuclear options and gas power plants. No leading parties consider it feasible for Croatia to cut out gas completely by 2035, according to a party poll by Greenpeace (ruling party HDZ did not answer).
  • Ahead of Croatian and European elections, members of the Scientists for Climate initiative also appealed to political parties to include climate policy in their programmes, calling for the inclusion of: expanding sustainable energy; the systematic monitoring of climate change; the implementation of sustainable agricultural policies; the introduction of ecological contributions in all branches of the economy; and the preservation of natural resources and drinking water reserves. They also analysed political programmes related to climate issues, finding that Možemo! Party has the greatest focus on climate policies of all parties. Možemo! held a press conference where it presented its climate and security policies, offering its vision of the green industrial revolution in Croatia.

The latest from Croatia – last month in recap

  • Greenpeace sent an appeal to president Zoran Milanović and prime minister Andrej Plenković, in which they expressed their concern about the open support and announcement of the Republic of Croatia's interest in investing in the Krško 2 nuclear power plant project in Slovenia. If Croatia were to enter a new nuclear project according to the same co-ownership model, as suggested by the Slovenian media, it would see Croatian citizens facing initial investment costs of at least five billion euros, with the year of completion and total costs remaining open, Greenpeace warned.
  • Green energy cooperative (ZEZ), with the support of a dozen organizations active in citizen energy, sent requests to the leading political parties for the development of energy communities and citizen energy projects in Croatia, in anticipation of the elections for members of both the Croatian and European parliaments. Key requests include simplifying the process for registering energy communities, and providing them with financial support.
  • The Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency (FZOEU), a state-owned fund for financing energy transition and environmental protection, announced a public call worth 15 million euros to co-finance the purchase of energy-efficient vehicles for citizens. Applications can be submitted from April 22. The same fund also published a public call for co-financing measures to adapt to climate change. Under the slogan "Green side of the street", this call is worth 17 million euros and is intended for projects of regional and local authorities.
  • Croatia’s first solar highway, with a total of 4,408 photovoltaic (PV) modules will be installed on the Zagreb-Macelj highway at sixteen locations. The combined installed power capacity will be two megawatts (MW), and the total annual production of electricity is expected to be 2.25 gigawatt hours (GWh). The construction is estimated at three and a half million euros and, according to the plan, should be completed by early 2025.
  • The Sunčane livade company plans to build a 252 MW agrisolar power plant, which would be one of the largest projects for generating electricity and producing agricultural products at the same location. The Bilogora agrisolar plant should be installed in the Bjelovar-Bilogora county, east of the capital of Croatia, Zagreb.
  • In Veliko Korenovo, a village near Bjelovar, eighty kilometres east from Zagreb, a new well was built exclusively for geothermal energy, which will serve to heat the greenhouses and halls of the nearby agricultural Bjelovar fair, but also for heating and filling the future Bjelovar spa.
  • From June 1, citizens residing in Zagreb who are 65 years plus will have the right to free public transportation, the City announced.
  • Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević announced that by September of this year, the Croatian capital will adopt an action plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. Measures would include the electrification of city buses and improvement of waste management policies.
  • The City of Zagreb finished planting 8,000 trees in the 2023/2024 planting season, thus fulfilling one of its important greening goals aimed at reducing air pollution, alleviating the consequences of summer heatwaves and improving of citizens' health. In this planting season, the City of Zagreb planted four times more trees than the average of previous years.

Marina’s picks – highlights from upcoming events and top reads

  • Julije Domac, Croatia's climate and energy adviser and head of the Regional Energy and Climate Agency of northwest Croatia (REGEA), published ten recommendations on how to manage the energy sector of the Republic of Croatia for the future Croatian prime minister. The first on the list is that this person should be someone of high integrity and should also become the vice president of the Government.
  • Forbes magazine published their TOP 10 absurdities investors currently face which affect the speed at which wind, solar and geothermal power plants are built in Croatia.
  • The DOOR NGO has created a guide for the establishment of citizens' energy communities. This useful read lists the necessary documentation and main steps for establishing an energy community in Croatia.
  • ‘Eleventh E?!’ – The environmental film festival (OFF) will be held from April 24 to 27 at the Kinoteka Cinema and Green Action NGO in Zagreb. The special focus of this edition of the festival are solutions. OFF's film and accompanying programs have been deepening our understanding of various environmental and social crises for a whole decade, it is not to be missed for anyone interested in the topic.
All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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