Photovoltaic power plants and electric cars are topics you hear about almost every day, but are they economically feasible? What are the potential benefits and reasons why organizations should implement them? Is mass market electromobility realistic in the Czech Republic? This and other topics were discussed by representatives of companies who were guests at our recent event.
The last Deloitte event in March was dedicated to the topic of photovoltaics and electromobility. There are many reasons why companies should switch to electric vehicles and install solar panels on their buildings. The main ones are to reduce emissions and move in the right direction towards sustainability, lower operating costs and also the ever increasing number of ESG legislation.
Our guests talked about the issues of electromobility, solar panels and related experiences and insights: Jan Řežáb, owner of the JRD development group, David Veselý, Manager of the Green Energy Department of CEZ ESCO, which operates in the field of green energy, and Miroslav Holan, Head of Business Network Development at Škoda auto. The meeting, moderated by Miroslav Lopour - Deloitte Senior Manager, took place within the Deloitte Business Club.
The introductory topic was photovoltaics. What are the advantages and where to start?
"The simple answer is that it makes economic sense these days, which was not the case just a few years ago. The second thing is self-sufficiency and the third reason is a greener approach and also legislative pressure. For an industrial customer, the payback is normally under 10 years with a subsidy; in the public sector, where subsidies are normally higher, the payback is even better. In general, it depends on the specific building, the price of electricity the customer has contracted and the technology used," said David Veselý, adding that subsidies are partly an administrative burden, but the process has improved in recent years. On the other hand, legislation is still a major obstacle, where the actual construction of a power plant can take only a month or two, but its authorisation can take six months to a year and a half.
Jan Řežáb added that subsidies for large photovoltaic projects are unnecessary, because these projects are profitable even without them. "We are able to have project economics at the level of CZK 1.50 - 1.70 per kilowatt hour for large installations, so the extra funds from subsidies are money wasted in the system." David Veselý countered, "The cost of the land has to be factored into the calculation, which is why our clients don't usually enter a project without subsidies."
Miroslav Holan added: "Photovoltaics certainly makes sense, but for us it is always only with a battery, which also shortens the payback period because it has other functions than just accumulation. Batteries also solve other issues than just photovoltaics, such as buying electricity on spot and reducing the cost of reserved input power."
Next topic was electromobility. Is mass electromobility (at least 20%) realistic in the Czech market?
"Every car company predicts its production, scales up production capacity and based on our data I can say that by 2032 we expect half of the registered cars in the country to be electric. In the EU, it will even be as early as 2028, because in the Czech Republic, unfortunately, we are about 4 years behind not only in terms of electromobility, but also in terms of energy self-sufficiency. There is a great interest from companies, so-called fleet customers, not only because they have to buy electric cars due to ESG regulations, but also because they are very satisfied with this product," explained Miroslav Holan, adding that another driver for electromobility will be the obligation for companies to report CO2 emissions from 1 January 2024. In order to get closer to carbon neutrality, companies will have to electrify their fleet and will also have to implement projects in the field of renewable energy sources such as solar power plants.
What should the operator of a large electric fleet consider?
"We are currently preparing the environment for the massive expansion of electromobility. It is important to understand that an electric car works differently from a car with an internal combustion engine and is therefore suitable for different purposes. Companies should prepare for electrification and if the project is handled properly, it will bring savings. For example, a company must ensure sufficient power supply for the introduction of chargers," Miroslav Holan opened the debate.
David Veselý added that ČEZ is installing not only photovoltaics, but also charging stations and storage. As far as charging stations within the building are concerned, this can be solved quite well by regulation within the building, by power storage. The power input can be increased in one-off increments through power storage, or it can be regulated within the building. "It's about smart fleet charging management so that not all cars are charged at the same time, for public charging points the solution is more complex and these networks need to be strengthened."
"Charging will be a problem in the future - you cannot charge in older apartment buildings, commercial buildings will have problems with power input supply and it will be very difficult to implement it in housing estates near existing agglomerations," added Jan Řežáb.
Miroslav Holan added: "A huge problem is with various permits, which are the biggest obstacle to everything, a charger that could realistically be installed in a month takes 2 years to install, which is the biggest killer of electromobility at the moment."
Finally, there was also the issue of green buildings
Jan Řežáb said, "There are relatively few new green buildings and when it comes to the renovation of older buildings, it must be looked at in absolute complexity. Heating is a relatively simple matter, but what is really complicated is providing cooling (outside commercial buildings), another more complex matter is heating of domestic water, which can be solved either by solar technical panels or photovoltaics. Then you have to look at the complex sustainability - what the building is made of and how it affects the specific environment of the site. It's about making sure that the building is not only technically well designed, but that it also makes a positive contribution to the community. "
The Power Up Your Investments event focused on the benefits and economic feasibility of photovoltaics and electric vehicles. Guests discussed the benefits of switching to EVs and installing solar panels, such as reducing emissions, lowering operating costs and complying with the ever-growing ESG legislation. Subsidies can be an administrative burden for PV projects, but large installations can be profitable without them. It is predicted that by 2032, half of registered cars in the country will be electric, but the very slow process of obtaining various permits for charging stations remains a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of EVs.