The mayor of the town of Dukovany in Moravia, Vítězslav Jonáš, is reconsidering the construction of a windmill park by ČEZ after the power company agreed to renegotiate a compensation package for the town.
ČEZ renewed its offer to pay 100,000 Kč ($4,746) to the local government, plus give them the possibility of purchasing a single windmill within the first five years of the plant’s construction, said Ivo MČšťánek, a ČEZ spokesman.
The two sides are expected to meet to discuss the plan in the next few months, he said, following a six-month stalemate on the issue.
Jonáš said previously that he would “take pains to prevent the park from emerging here.”
The national power company stopped building last week, after a political maelstrom of community referendums against the park and mayoral refusals.
Dukovany is also home to a nuclear power plant, which Jonáš has said he supports expanding and modernizing.
“It looks ugly. We want to attract tourists,” Jonáš said.
“The area is already affected by the nuclear plant, so this would be another burden.”
There are 60 windmills in the country producing 51 megawatts of energy, according to government figures. The largest windmill park, in Ostružná in Jeseníky, has six operating turbines.
The 100-meter (328-foot) high lithe, white, turbines are an environmentalist’s fantasy.
Three spokes atop each wind-powered generator rotate up to 20 times per minute, producing 2 megawatts of electricity – enough to serve the needs of about 2,000 households.
ČEZ Obnovitelné zdroje has said it will build 39 of the generators in Dukovany by 2011 as part of an overall goal of increasing output from renewable sources.
Because of the opposition, the company has redistributed planned turbines between Dukovany, Rouchovany, Rešice, Slavětice and Horní Dubňany. ČEZ already operates wind power plants in two other areas: Nový Hrádek and Hrubý Jeseník.
ČEZ plans to invest 30 billion Kč domestically to develop renewable resources over the next 15 years. About 20 billion Kč of that is to go toward the construction of new wind power plants.
Investment in wind power makes economic sense, said ČEZ’s Ivo MČšťánek.
“ČEZ policy is not to build in areas where the people refuse it. But we hope they can change their attitude,” MČšťánek said.
Company executives are hoping once they build windmills in other regions Dukovany residents will approve the controversial project under negotiation, he said.
Dukovany is in the southern part of the Vysočina region, marked by jagged mountains and a small population. It is one of the few suitable places for windmills in the Czech Republic, due to the geography and climate of the region, MČšťánek said.
Mayor Jonáš contends that the company made a mistake by not telling Dukovany residents exactly what their intentions were. The number of windmills supposed to be erected was never made explicit to the city, changing from 39 to 11, he has said.
If communication during negotiations is clearer this second time around, ČEZ may be able to lift its construction freeze, Jonáš said.
The European Union wants to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable resources to 20 percent by 2020. The president of the European Wind Energy Association named wind power a key factor in achieving that goal.
The development of the ČEZ-constructed windmill park is said to be an aid in helping the country uphold its commitment to the EU.
The government has pledged to generate 8 percent of the country’s power from renewable resources by 2010, which would require almost a twofold increase of power production from renewable resources, according to ČEZ.
“ČEZ Group, as the largest power producer in the Czech Republic, is ready to contribute significantly to the fulfillment of this goal,” said Josef Sedlák, director of ČEZ Obnovitelné zdroje, in a statement.
Recent data suggests the company’s target growth is part of a regional trend.
In a study released last week by Emerging Energy Research, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based consulting firm tracking emerging technologies on global energy markets predicted that wind power in Eastern Europe will increase to 7,552 megawatts by 2015, up from 569 megawatts in 2006 – particularly in Poland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Domestically, the consulting firm estimates the market will grow from 50 to 560 megawatts during that same period, adding an average of 60 megawatts per year during the next eight years.
“I don’t believe the fact this project was stopped will have a big impact in our forecasts since there are other wind projects in the pipeline that are likely to go through,” said Catalina Robledo, author of the report and an analyst at the firm.
Investors have a huge interest in the 35 projects currently proposed to build wind electric power plants in the country, said Jakub Kašpar, spokesman for the Environment Ministry.
“We see wind energy as a viable and important part of the electricity mix of the future economy of the Czech Republic,” he said
The largest initiative is a park consisting of 91 windmills proposed by Czech Venti for the Chomutov region near the Krušné hory mountains, which recently received a positive environmental impact assessment, according to Kašpar.
Czech Venti is a partnership located in Chomutov between London-based Virtual Utility Limited and Czech-based engineering group Proventi a.s.
Czechs often have superstitious fears about wind power plants, Kašpar said. They worry the turbines will be noisy, that the turbines can hurt birds and other animals, and that they could disturb TV signals. None of that is true, he said.
By Riva Froymovich
11 July 2007