Description of the region Primorsko

Renewable energies in Croatia

As future EU member, Croatia is obliged to transpose provisions of EU Directive 2009/28/EC (RED- Renewable Energy Directive) on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources into its national legislative and institutional framework, and to contribute to targets set by EU of 20% reduction of GHG emissions comparing to 1999 levels, 20% of primary energy savings compared to projections, and a share of 20% of renewable energies in energy consumption by 2020. According to National strategy of energy sector development from 2009, the share of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES) in Croatia, including large hydropower plants, will remain at 35% of total electricity consumption in the period until 2020. Since it is predicted that the increase in electricity production from large hydro will be significantly lower than increase in overall electricity consumption, in order to maintaining mentioned 35 % of electricity from RES, investments in other RES (wind, solar, small hydro, biomass, geothermal), will have to be facilitated.

During the euro- integration process, Croatia has engaged in reform of country's energy sector according to EU legislative framework, what enabled development and usage of RES. There are two major national laws on energy (Energy law and Law on electricity market) from which derive five subordinate regulations which regulate usage, rights, obligations, and incentive measures for RES, and appoint the organisations and institutions responsible for implementation of RES policies. With mentioned laws and regulations, Directive 2001/77/EZ is transposed into secondary and primary legislation on promotion of energy produced from RES on national energy market. According to mentioned secondary regulation, it is planed that the minimal portion of electricity from RES shall be 13,6% in total direct energy consumption by 31 December 2020 . However, global financial and economic crisis, limited availability of investment capital, and prolongation of deadlines for equipment acquisition for RES (especially wind turbines), resulted in substantial slowdown, even halt in development of major already started RES projects in Croatia. However, planned facilitation of administrative procedures that shall allow investors faster requisition of all documents and faster construction, respectively faster realisation of the projects . Furthermore, Croatia will try to reach targets through appliance of special economic and financial instruments for acceleration of project realization.

ENERMED Project partner- EIHP

Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) is a non-profit research organisation with the mission to provide expert and scientific support to the strategic development of the Croatian energy system and its sub-systems. EIHP is recognised as a regional centre of expertise in the field of energy. The Department for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency specialises in renewable energy sources (RES) and energy efficiency (EE), as well as the environmental aspects of the energy sector. Among others, EIHP competencies and activities include:

  • Expert and scientific research and analysis (RES potential, RES energy utilisation and EE, quantification of the environmental aspects of renewable resources management and utilisation, associated economic and financial analyses, the development of a stimulating legislative environment)
  • Consulting services in the field of RES
  • Feasibility studies and energy planning
  • RES promotion, education and information dissemination (organization of seminars, workshops and courses; publication of editions, periodicals and other forms of communication with experts, scientists and the general public, organisation and implementation of different programmes and pilot projects.
  • Environmental analysis
  • Promotion of bioenergy for sustainable development
  • Empowerment of stakeholders (private sector, authorities...) 

Primorje - Gorski kotar County

  • General characteristics
Primorje - Gorski kotar county is located in

Picture 1. Primorje- Gorski kotar County and its position in Croatia

the north-west part of Croatia, at the same top of Croatian part of Adriatic sea. It's territory extends over 3.588 km2 of land surface including islands, while sea surface occupies 4.399 km2. The County is home to 296.123 inhabitants .The County's administrative centre, city of Rijeka, with population of 128.735 inhabitants is the biggest city in the County and the third biggest city in Croatia. Overall, the County is administratively divided into 21 municipalities, 14 cities and another 510 settlements (Picture 1).

Looking at natural and physical characteristics, as well as the level of development, the County is divided into three sub regions: mountainous area (Gorski kotar), coastal area (Primorje), and the islands (Picture 3). Three mentioned sub regions greatly differ in terms of natural characteristics, population structure and economy. Gorski Kotar (Picture 2) is characterised with mild climate and abundance of forests and water resources.


Picture 2. Gorski kotar (source: Kvarner County Tourism Office)

One of Gorski kotar main attributes are natural beauties and rich flora and fauna, among which are in particular interesting large carnivores such as bear, wolf and lynx. The fact that this area is poorly populated, with 8,5 % of total County population, benefits the richness of wildlife. And while Gorski kotar is facing further decrease in population, coastal area is the most vital part of the County. Due to its climate, infrastructure and rich cultural heritage this area attracts vast numbers of tourists, especially during summer months. In fact, Primorje - Gorski kotar County is one of the most developed touristic regions in Croatia. With 2,2 millions guest and 11,1 million overnight stays per year, it constitutes 1/5 of total tourism in Croatia. 87 % of guests are foreign tourists . This temporary increase in population during the summer months, represents additional pressure on County's resources.


Picture 3. Cres Island (source: Kvarner County Tourism Office)

Coastal part, especially Rijeka (Picture 4), plays an important role in integration of wider area of Danube with Adriatic. The city of Rijeka is not only main Croatian harbour but as well an enter and exit point of Europe and an important connection between Central Europe and Mediterranean. This has resulted in significant concentration of infrastructure systems (transport and energy) and industry. The port of Rijeka is multi-purpose port facility capable of handling almost any type of cargo, including oil and oil derivates at terminal in Port basin Omišalj.


Picture 4. City of Rijeka (source: Kvarner County Tourism Office)

While Rijeka has developed industry, ship construction site and a harbour, other parts of the coast, especially islands, relay much on tourism as a main supporter of their economy. On the other hand mountainous part has a long tradition of forestry and wood processing industry. Primorje- Gorski kotar county is among the most economically developed counties in Croatia, along with Zagreb and Istria, with GDP above Croatian average, and it has among the lowest rates of unemployment in Croatia. Most of the population is employed in processing industry and trading.

  • Energy situation within the County

The energy system in the County is constituted of :

  • Thermo power plant Rijeka;
  • Hydropower plant (HPP) Rijeka, HPP Vinodol and two small HPP (Zeleni vir & Finvest);
  •  Industrial heating plants: oil refinery Urinj & Mlaka, DINA, Finvest Čabar;
  •  Industrial boilers;
  •  Public boilers (Energo);
  • City gasworks (Energo).

The annual energy consumption of 4 MWh/per capita in the County is much higher than Croatian average of 2,5 MWh. Only 5 % of energy consumed derives from RES, while the most of energy is generated from fossil fuels . The most important form of energy in the immediate consumers supply are liquid fuels (with more than 60% share), electricity (with more than 20% share), solid fuel and gas. The energy efficiency of the system is very unfavourable due to overly large losses in the energy transformations that amount to 28% (national average 8.5 %).

The main characteristics of the energy system in the County are:

  •  high dependency on imported fossil fuels
  •  insufficient capacities (production, planning, education, scientific etc.) for wider use of RES and improvement of energy efficiency
  • inadequate financial investments for wider use of RES
  • the lack of consciousness about future limitations regarding climate change and energy use

The wholly developed structural energy system can only be found in Rijeka. During the summer, islands are exposed to higher energy demands due to the significant influx of tourists. The potential of meeting County's energy needs with usage of renewable, especially for tourism demands, are not considered as they should be.

According to "Registry of projects and facilities for usage of energy and cogeneration from RES, and eligible producers" in Primorje - Gorski kotar county there are overall 34 projects involving renewable energies which are registered in the Registry. There are 8 projects involving wind power plants while solar energy is represented with 13 projects. Furthermore, 9 projects involve production of energy from biomass, 2 from hydro energy, 1 from waste gas and 1 cogeneration project (Picture 5). 73,53 % power plants connected to distribution network, have installed power up to and including 1MW, while 26,47 % are with installed power higher than 1 MW.


Picture 5. RES projects within Primorje- Gorski kotar county

Although RES registry listed high number of projects, fact is that only several projects are realized while others are in the administrative procedure pipeline. So far, ten photovoltaic plants with total installed capacity of 700 kW are in function, while additional 400 kW are waiting for construction and final approvals. Also, only one cogeneration with installed capacity of 460 kW is in operation.

According to County's Action Plan, future directions for RES development in the County are:

  •  strengthening the capacities for RES and projects involving energy efficiency
  •  promotion and financial support to RES and energy efficiency initiatives, among public, private and civil sector
  • reduced consumption of fossil fuels and electricity in objects in public ownership
  • awareness rising of wider population on RES and energy efficiency
  • RES potentials in Primorje - Gorski kotar county

The County has great potential for usage of RES, which has been insufficiently realised.

Solar energy

The insulation and climate conditions are favourable for development of solar power plants for production of electricity, energy for heating and for supply of hot water for households.

Annual average irradiation on horizontal surface
Picture 6. Average annual irradiation of horizontal surface for Primorje - Gorski kotar county
(insolation) varies depending on the climate and relief. Hawing in mind that Primorje-Gorski Kotar County in fact incorporates two types of climate – Mediterranean and mountain, this is affected on spatial distribution of solar resource as well. On the islands this value varies from 1,45 MWh/m2 on southern to 1,35 MWh/m2 on northern islands, while in mountainous regions the value is between 1,30 MWh/m2 and 1,20 MWh/m2 (Picture 6).

It is estimated that at the city of Rijeka, photovoltaic system with installed power of 10 kW set under optimal angle without shading, could produce annually around 11.000 kWh of electricity. This means that the efficiency of photovoltaic system for Rijeka area is around 1.100 kWh/kW annually. In mountainous area this value is lower, around 950 kWh/kW, while on the south islands of the county the value are around 1.250 kWh/kW annually.

Wind energy

According to some estimates the County shows significant potential for production of electricity from wind energy. The most significant potential could be expected on the mountain tops on the south parts of the County, as shown by model ALADIN/HR. The winds are defined by appearance of the coastal line. The winds with significant energy are bura (circulates from land towards Adriatic, vertically on the coast) and jugo (circulates from south Adriatic, along coastline towards land). However, strong winds such as bura can be as well restraining factors, especially in the south-east part of the County. This, as well as harsh winter condition in the mountains, has to be taken in consideration while planning and construction wind power plants. Total available technical potential is estimated at 342 MW (2 MW units). The islands show significant potential, especially, if we take in consideration the size of islands. However, according to Law on Spatial Planning and Building Act (OG 76/07), Article on "Protected coastal areas", it is forbidden to construct wind turbines inside protected coastal belt.

Biomass energy

The potential of energy production from biomass is recognised within the County. Dendro biomass potentials are present in Gorski kotar, where the forestry and wood industry are well developed. Theoretical potential of waste from wood industry is estimated at 26.022 MWh/year. Furthermore, there is a significant potential for generation of biogas from biodegradable compound of communal waste and it is estimated to be 57.594 MWh/year, while theoretical potential for waste from slaughterhouses is estimated at 8.255 MWh/year. However, it is important to emphasise that these are theoretical potentials which are estimated based on availability of raw material. Technical potentials will depend on means and efficiency of conversion. The production of biogas from agriculture waste doesn't show greater potentials due to climate and relief that determine the low intensity and mostly pastoral nature of animal husbandry.

Geothermal energy

The County's geothermal gradient (the degree of temperature change with depth) is low and varies between 1,0 and 2,5°C/100 km. Geothermal gradient is one of indicators of geothermal potential on some area. Furthermore, karst that is dominant within County relief is characterised by porous structure which allows water drainage from potential deposits, making existence of deposits with thermal waters limited.

Small hydro

Technical utilizable potential is estimated for few rivers inside County's territory. The most realistic estimates are made for Čabranka and Kupica rivers. On mentioned rivers, small hydropower with total installed power of 6.773 KW could produce 30.146 GWh annually. For two systems (Kupa and Dubračina) with installed power between 5 and 10 MW (15,3 together), it is calculated that technical potential is some 33,6 GWh. However, these calculations didn't include consideration of biological minimum. When established, it will definitely lower the installed powers and potentials.


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