EIHP (Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar) is a wholly state-owned, non-profit scientific institution financed on a per-project basis, through the execution of project development contracts won following international and national competitive biddings. The Institute implements its mission in cooperation with numerous scientists and institutions from Croatian and abroad, and is taking over a leading role in energy development in the wider region and beyond.
Croatia stands as the newest member of the EU. How have you seen the country change during the past six years?
Croatia is moving in a positive direction, including the acquis communitaire in its legal and business practice. This is not enough for citizens, as they are eager to have a better life, which is why many young people are leaving for other EU countries. On the other hand, without EU membership, these changes would be slower, if possible at all.
In May 2019 the Croatian Government has proposed a new national Energy Strategy. Which objectives should be pursued with priority in your view?
Croatia is in the process of developing and adopting a new energy strategy, which is likely to be adopted by the end of 2019. The objectives of the Croatian energy strategy are the same as in all EU countries - to increase energy efficiency and use of renewable sources and to gradually reduce fossil fuels. It is less of a problem how to set the objectives than to accomplish them and set up a sustainable economic system in the energy sector that will itself generate positive processes and achieve the objectives of energy transition. The entire tax policy will need to be revised and a tax on CO2 emissions will need to be set as the exclusive factor of the transition process.
Croatia is planning the construction of a LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal at Krk Island. How do you expect it will impact the local economy?
The LNG terminal is by its nature a regional project and should contribute to the security of supply and stability of natural gas prices in the region. The local economy will not be much affected.
What are the country’s ambitions in terms of renewable energy? Would you say the population and the government are generally supportive of clean energy?
It will probably be included in the new strategy. As in all EU countries, more and more people feel that it needs to be done. It is important to create an economic model that will allow every investor, household or entrepreneur to build renewable sources for their needs and for the market, primarily the sun for citizens, and the sun and wind for entrepreneurs. Other renewables will be less represented. There is enough interest in the energy of the sun and wind already today, even without government subsidies.
Is there an appetite among Croatian companies to expand internationally? What new geographies are they typically interested in?
Ambitions exist, companies are becoming more aware, but that is not enough. Croatia and the entire EU are facing a period of defining industrial policy in the context of new conditions and international developments. This is a major challenge and, among other things, raises the question of the role of the state in the development of new technologies and products, taking into account the development niches that can be entered. Greater synergy between the development of industry and science will be sought, both at the level of each Member State and EU level.
How is EIHP supporting the market during these times of change? What are your key objectives for the near future?
The EIHP is involved in creating the transition, both in Croatia and in many countries around the world. Our goal is to transfer our knowledge to all those countries in need, countries in our region, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. The very fact that we come from a country that has undergone a legal transition and is also preparing for an energy transition qualifies us to be of use to many governments. We know a lot about the public interest in energy, which is an important issue for many of the countries we work in.
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