High costs of welcoming Hungary to the fold
The time taken to connect wind farms to the grid, and the high costs of doing so, are the main barriers to wind energy development in Hungary, it has been revealed in Budapest at a workshop organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Hungarian Wind Energy Association (HuWEA). Grid connection takes an average of 45 months in the country, and 10.6 per cent of total project costs are spent on getting it. However, the new government is promising new plans to help reach the 2020 targets.
“Costs and long lead times are not the only problem,” said Jacopo Moccia, EWEA’s Regulatory Affairs Adviser. “Insufficient grid capacity and an unstable decision making process for granting building permits are also deterring investors. Things must change if Hungary is to reach its 2020 renewable energy target, and that will not be possible without a substantial contribution from wind energy.”
“Hungary needs to reach 13 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and the new government is looking into how to exceed this target,” Péter Olajos, State Secretary for Energy and Climate Policy in the Ministry of National Economy told the recent workshop. “Our aim is to create new jobs, reduce energy dependence on fossil fuels, and support rural development: renewables are one of the means to reach these goals. In order to achieve the 2020 targets, 80 per cent of investments must come from private investors. For this we need to create an attractive environment: resources, which we have, grids improvements, which we can do, and a regulatory framework, which the government intends to do. It would be a matter of great pride for me if by the end of 2014 the government could announce that installed wind capacity is quadrupled.”
At the end of 2009 Hungary had just above 200 MW of installed wind energy capacity. EWEA and HuWEA would like to see at least 1,200 MW installed in the country by 2020, which would provide about five per cent of its electricity demand. Wind energy could provide up to 17 per cent of EU electricity demand by 2020. This would avoid 333 million tonnes of CO2 per year, equal to 29 per cent of the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target. Currently the wind industry employs 192,000 people in the EU but by 2020 this number is expected to grow to 446,000 jobs – 33 new jobs every week from now up to 2020.