Does solar power have a future in Central Eastern Europe? The question is being posed in connection with the massive transformation of the region’s energy system envisioned in the European Green Deal, developed by the European Commission to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. Recent developments show that solar power has a future, and some of the projects are actually relatively large-scale.
In 2021, the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund (3SIIF) announced that it had acquired a significant stake in Enery Development, a Vienna-based renewable energy company and independent power producer. The Three Seas Initiative is a format of cooperation grouping together countries from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria and Croatia in the south. It is particularly focused on strengthening the infrastructural links between the states in the region, and the 3SIIF is one of its main tools. The investment in Enery Development is the 3SIIF’s third portfolio investment and its first in the field of energy.
As the European Green Deal has accelerated the process during which Central Eastern Europe must transition from coal-powered energy to renewables, solar power is one of the solutions that regional leaders are studying closely. Solar has until now not been widely deployed in the Three Seas region, but that could be about to change. Enery Development currently owns a portfolio of 156MW of operating solar power assets in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The company also has a development portfolio of over 2GW in several countries in the Three Seas region, including Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, and Austria.
A green vision
Enery was created in 2019 and operates on a vision of controlling the entire value chain within renewable energy production. The company specializes in acquiring, developing, and operating large-scale renewable power plants to generate renewable power at competitive prices. The company takes an ecological approach not only when it comes to power generation but takes a holistic approach to its green mission. For example, the company has a policy of only acquiring solar power projects built on sites with poor soil quality and can not be used for agriculture. Following the 3SIIF’s investment, the company will invest EUR 1 bln into the energy transition of Central Eastern Europe away from coal- and lignite-dependent power generation to a fully renewable-based energy mix.
According to the European Green Deal, natural gas will remain a transitional energy source for the region until at least the 2050s. Many Three Seas countries are also pursuing new nuclear power projects, though it won’t be enough to cover the region’s future energy demand. Renewable projects such as wind and solar power will also have to play an important role. Investments into companies such as Enery show that the Three Seas Initiative intends to participate in the accelerating process of harvesting the renewable energy provided by the sun. All for the sake of stopping global climate change and improving air quality across the region.
Enery’s expansion proves that solar power is a viable model in Central Eastern Europe, and that is good news for all of us.