Enough energy, affordable prices, enhanced energy security, and decarbonization. That is a brief summary of the planned priorities of the New Czech Energy Strategy that will outline the country’s energy future for 2040.
The current one dates back to 2015. And while 2015 doesn’t seem like such a distant past, some Ministry of Industry and Trade officials were heard to say that „these eight years feel like a century.” And they are right. On top of the abovementioned main priorities, other strategic goals are mentioned:
Reconstruction of energy infrastructure
Accommodation of international commitments
All in all, Czechia needs a new wind when it comes to energy. And part of this new wind comes in the shape of a modification of the State Energy Strategy – a strategic document that will lay the foundations for the Czech energy sector for decades.
The need for change
The New Czech Energy Strategy responds to the pressing challenges of today: threats to energy security, the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and mitigating climate change. Like many other European countries, the Czech Republic is responsible for meeting ambitious renewable energy targets the European Union sets.
The most significant threat to Czech energy security was the outbreak of war in Ukraine. It showed Czechia and all European countries that too much dependence on one country for raw materials could become a significant problem. So when the Czech Republic cut itself off from Russian gas and oil, problems arose.
Czechia has therefore begun an immediate and radical diversification of its raw material resources. Thus, the new Strategy envisages the flow of raw material resources into the country through several channels. The most important of these new sources is the Polish Stork II gas pipeline, in the commission of which the Czech Republic plans to participate.
Another important project for Czech energy security was opening an LNG terminal in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Several European countries cooperated on the terminal shortly after the outbreak of the Russian invasion. The terminal was built and fully operational in a few months. The facility processes up to eight billion cubic meters of gas annually, of which three billion are preordained for Czechia, a volume equivalent to about a third of the Czech Republic’s annual consumption.
Phasing out coal: the transition to a low-carbon economy
The Czech Republic has long depended on coal as a primary energy source. However, the New Czech Energy Strategy acknowledges the necessity of phasing out coal power plants to comply with international climate agreements, such as the Paris Agreement and Green Deal.
The plan outlines a comprehensive roadmap for the gradual retirement of coal-fired power plants and the just transition of impacted communities and workers. And when should coal in the Czech Republic end according to the new Strategy? According to official documents, in 2033. But many experts predict that it will be much sooner, not because of government regulation, but because of the unprofitability of coal power.
The end of coal is one of the most critical aspects of the new energy strategy. The coal sector employs around 28,000 people in the Czech Republic, both directly in mining (over 14,500) and in power and heating plants (3,500), and indirectly (approximately 10,000 workers in supply companies, transporters, and researchers).
The government plans to support retraining and reemployment programs to ensure those affected by the coal phase-out can smoothly transition to new economic sectors. The main objectives are, therefore, simplicity, smoothness, and fairness of coal phase-out.
Renewable energy: a pillar of the strategy
A fundamental aspect of the New Czech Energy Strategy centers around rapidly expanding renewable energy sources. The plan aims to significantly increase the share of renewables in the overall energy mix, with a specific focus on wind, solar, hydroelectric, and biomass energy. This increased share of renewables should partially replace retired coal sources.
Alongside promoting renewable energy, the New Czech Energy Strategy prioritizes energy efficiency and conservation measures. The plan focuses on modernizing and upgrading the country’s infrastructure to optimize energy consumption in various sectors, including buildings, transportation, and industry.
The government aims to encourage individuals and businesses to adopt energy-saving practices through incentives, regulatory frameworks, and public awareness campaigns. The plan will further accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future by reducing energy demand.
Powering Progress: The Indispensable Role of Nuclear Energy
In the context of the New Czech Energy Strategy, the importance of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic’s energy mix cannot be overstated. Nuclear power has been a vital component of the country’s energy portfolio for several decades, providing a stable and reliable source of electricity generation. And there’s nothing to change that.
With the ambitious goals of reducing carbon emissions and achieving energy security, nuclear power is a low-carbon alternative that can operate continuously and independently of weather conditions, unlike certain renewable sources.
As part of the New Czech Energy Strategy, the government aims to modernize and upgrade existing nuclear facilities while ensuring stringent safety measures and responsible nuclear waste management. The Strategy envisages a share of nuclear power in electricity generation between 48 and 56 percent by mid-century. By comparison, in 2021, it was only 36 percent.
Behind this percentage increase is a plan to build four new nuclear reactors. These are to be supplemented by an unspecified number of small modular reactors. This new nuclear infrastructure is to become the backbone of the new, energy-independent Czech Republic.
Into the Nuclear-Powered Future!
The New Czech Energy Strategy marks a significant turning point in the country’s energy landscape, outlining a comprehensive and ambitious roadmap towards a greener, more nuclear and energy-sustainable future. The Czech Republic demonstrates its commitment by building a resilient energy sector by phasing out coal, strongly supporting atomic energy, and engaging in international cooperation.
As the Strategy takes shape, it is crucial for all stakeholders, from government officials and businesses to citizens, to work collaboratively to achieve the outlined goals. If effectively implemented, the New Czech Energy Strategy has the potential not only to safeguard much-needed energy security but also set an example for other nations seeking to chart a path toward a more sustainable and prosperous future.