In the past couple of years, the Regional Energy Agency Kvarner (REAK) initiated a number of projects that promoted energy self-reliance and the carbon neutrality of islands, which are considered to have a large but untapped potential for renewable energy. Islands make up 30% of the Primorje Gorski Kotar County’s (PGKC’s) territory, depending heavily on fossil fuels and imports of energy from the mainland.
Back in 2015, the PGKC’s Administrative Department for Regional Development, Infrastructure and Project Management recognised the importance of investing in smart and self-sufficient islands by launching a pilot project “Unije – a self-sustaining island”, led by REA Kvarner, as a model of sustainable and self-sufficient life on the island that could then be implemented in other similar island communities.
In 2017, representatives of Croatian islands signed a Declaration on Smart Islands which was joined by hundreds of European islands from the Baltics and the North Sea to the Mediterranean. Coordinated by REAK, among the first signatories of the Declaration were the island municipalities from PGKC region (Krk, Mali Lošinj, Baska, Dobrinj, Omisalj, Punat and Vrbnik).
Furthermore, one of the internationally selected six pilot island areas by Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative to receive technical assistance was the Cres-Losinj archipelago, located in the Kvarner Gulf. This led in 2019 to the creation of the “Clean Energy Transition Agenda: Cres-Lošinj”.
Currently, a solar power plant is being built on the island of Cres that will be the biggest PV in Croatia. The power plant’s connection power is 6.5 MW, and the expected production of about 8.5 million kWh of electricity annually, corresponding to the consumption of about 2,500 households. The investor is the national energy company HEP and the power plant is expected to start operating in spring 2021. Furthermore, HEP is considering the construction of two more solar power plants in the PGKC county area: PV Cres 2 (4.14 MW, close to the existing PV Cres) and PV Ustrine (9.99 MW) near Osor.
REA Kvarner’s new H2020 project “ISLANDER – Accelerating the decarbonisation of island energy systems” is also expected to further accelerate the decarbonisation of several selected island energy systems. Project results will be replicated in the island of Cres and the islands of the Kvarner archipelago.
In 2018, after two decades, the Croatian Parliament adopted a new law on islands which should provide conditions for demographic and economic revitalisation of the islands and their self-sustainability. The law supports the engagement of “island coordinators” through regional development agencies. Thus, the Regional Development Agency (PRIGODA) and the Regional Energy Agency (REAK) of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County continue to work in synergy and support the smart development of islands, cities and regions.
Visit REA Kvarner’s website.