Only 50% of the energy that Croatia uses originates from its own sources. In reality, Croatia does not need to import energy as it has many natural sources that could be used instead such as solar, wind, water, gas, among others. For this reason, Croatia should, in fact, export energy and not depend on other countries.
Croatia depends on the import of gas and oil because its existing sources have been depleted. The country also imports 100% of the coal it uses.
The energy produced from renewable sources has increased in the last few years, with wind power plants becoming more widespread. The production of all types of renewable energy sources including solar, wind,, biogas, liquid biofuels, and geothermal energy has increased by 20,4%, while the usage of all other non-renewable energy sources decreased in 2019.
In 2019, Croatia produced 12.760,3 GWh of energy, made up of:
- ~ 31,3% fuel wood;
- ~ 25,7% hydropower;
- ~ 18% natural gas;
- ~ 15% crude oil;
- ~ 9,7% renewables;
- ~ 0,3% heat.
*Renewable sources include wind energy, solar energy, bio gas, liquid biofuels, and geothermal energy.
In 2019, Croatian citizens consumed 405,7 PJ of energy, made up of:
- ~ 32,8% oil-based (liquid) fuels;
- ~ 24,9% natural gas;
- ~ 13,4% wood and biomass;
- ~ 12,7% hydropower;
- ~ 5,5% renewables;
- ~ 5,4% electricity, which includes nuclear;
- ~ 5,1% coal and coke;
- ~ 0,1% heat.
Croatia imports 50% of energy worth approximately 12 billion kuna (approximately 1.6 billion euros; Croatia uses the Euro since January 2023), which includes:
- 100% of coal;
- 80% of oil;
- 50% of gas;
- ~40% of electricity.
Furthermore, in 2019, Croatia’s imported energy included:
- ~ 34,5% of petroleum products, from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria;
- ~ 26% of crude oil, from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria;
- ~ 21,1% of natural gas, from Russia;
- ~ 10% of electricity, from Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina;
- ~ 6,9% of coal and coke, from Colombia;
- ~ 1,5% of biomass.
Croatia’s oil and gas sector
In Croatia there are 38 oil fields that produce and process crude oil; gas condensation is produced from 9 gas fields. Croatia has recoverable oil reserves of 70 million barrels and currently produces 11,000 barrels per day, unchanged from 2022.
There are approximately 870 petrol stations in Croatia, most of them are owned by INA, the Croatian oil company.
Petrol stations in Croatia are owned by:
- INA (~396);
- Petrol (~110);
- Crodux (~91);
- Lukoil (~47);
- Tifon (~46);
- Shell (~26);
- Adria Oil (~25);
- KTC (~15).
Approximately 74 petrol stations are placed on Croatian motorways.
Production data was reported at 61.000 million cubic metres in January 2023. This records a decrease from the previous number of 62.000 million cubic metres for December 2022.
This production data is updated monthly, averaging 144.000 million cubic metres from December 2008 to January 2023. The data reached an all-time high of 245.000 million cubic metres in December 2009 and a record low of 49.000 million cubic metres in September 2020.
Croatia has 17 natural gas exploitation fields in the Pannonian Basin or “Pannon”, which mostly covers Slavonija. An additional 3 exploitation areas are located in the Adriatic but only 37% belong to Croatia; the rest are owned by Italy.
Pannon produces 64,7% of the gas and most of it comes from the fields of Duboka Podravina and Međimurje (the Molve, Kalinovac, Gola, Vučkovec, and Zebanec reservoirs).
Renewable energy in Croatia
Renewable energies account for approximately 28.5% of Croatia’s energy mix. According to Eurostat, gross primary energy consumption in Croatia in 2020 was 9.02TWh and final energy consumption was 7.52TWh. Croatia imports about 52.9% of the total energy consumed annually, which could be greatly decreased by increasing the use of renewable resources.
In February 2020, the Croatian government adopted a new Energy Strategy for the period until 2030, with an outlook through 2050. The Strategy includes a wide range of energy policy initiatives that will improve energy security, increase energy efficiency, lower dependence on fossil fuels, increase local production and increase renewable resources. The Strategy predicts that renewable energy resources as a share of total energy consumption will grow to 36.4% in 2030, and to 65.6% in 2050. The government intends to spend about USD $1.4 billion on grid modernization, with a goal of increasing renewable energy source connections by at least 800MW by 2026 and 2,500MW by 2030.
The Croatian energy regulatory framework and strategy are fully aligned with the European Union. In 2019, the government adjusted the regulatory framework to develop a smart grid that would enable small-scale units operated by households or businesses to sell their surplus electricity to the grid, based on a sustainable business model.
In 2021, electricity price for household consumers was 0.1022 euros per kWh, while the European Nation’s average is 0.1515 euros per kWh. For non-households in 2021 it was 0.0998 euros per kWh, while the European Nation’s average was 0.1032 euros. Croatia has one of the lowest electricity prices per kWh amongst European countries.
Croatian Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
While there are 15 active electricity suppliers in Croatia, the state-owned Croatian Electricity Company (HEP) is still the key market player. Since Croatia joined the European Union, the Croatian Electric Energy Transmission Operator (HOPS) has operated as a state-owned company, independent from HEP.
These companies will play an important role in the development of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) in Croatia. According to a recent analysis prepared by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), local DER are mostly limited to reselling imported solar heating equipment to households and businesses, with little local production. Only a few DER suppliers offer integrated solutions with cost-benefit analysis, permit acquisition, installation, and maintenance. Almost no one offers full end-to-end services including financing, an insurance package, local network integration, and energy trading. However, there are several local companies preparing to launch such full-service business models in the coming years.
According to BCG, Croatia has great potential for solar energy usage in the form of DER. Croatia has one of the highest amounts of solar radiation in Europe (3.4-5.2 kWh/m2day), but one of the lowest photovoltaic capacity per capita (12Wp – lower than Sweden and 40 times lower than Germany). The largest opportunity lies along the Croatian coast that is flooded by tourists who overload the local infrastructure capacity during the summer (in 2021, despite the pandemic, 13.8 million foreign tourists visited Croatia, a country of 4 million inhabitants).
Opportunities in renewables
According to BCG, the following are the 7 key technologies that are needed to support the development of DER in Croatia:
- Battery Storage: captures electricity for use at a later time;
- Photovoltaic: PV panels for conversion of sunlight to electricity;
- Combined Heat and Power: CH&P plants with various feedstocks;
- Energy Efficiency: a way of managing and restraining the growth of energy consumption;
- EMS/VPP (Environmental Management System/Voluntary Protection Program): a digital ecosystem of hardware, software, and services for monitoring and controlling the energy flow;
- Demand Response: services that help better match the power demand with supply;
- Grid Integration and Grid Enhancing Technologies: solutions that help integrate DER into the grid.
Besides known renewables, Croatia plans to install 70MW of hydrogen production facilities by 2030 and 2,750MW by 2050 to increase its share of total energy consumption from zero to 0.2% and 11%, respectively, according to the national strategy for hydrogen from 2021 to 2050 that the Croatian Parliament adopted.
The installation of electrolyzers with a capacity is planned in line with the scenario for achieving climate neutrality by 2050. But given the fast-growing potential of a hydrogen-based economy in the European Union, and the potential of renewables in Croatia, experts estimate the goals could be increased in the case of the accelerated development of a hydrogen-based economy.
In that case, the strategy reads that it is possible to install electrolyzers with a capacity of 1,270MW by 2030 and 7,330MW by 2050. In such a scenario, the share of hydrogen in energy consumption would rise to 3.75% by 2030 and to 15% by 2050.
The strategy gives the country’s vision of development, research, production, infrastructure, and application of hydrogen technology to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and a vision of national goals related to infrastructure development for alternative fuels.
Necessary investments in hydrogen
The strategy notes that the European Union’s Hydrogen Strategy estimated the size of total investments in production capacities by 2050 at 180 billion euro to 470 billion euro and concludes that significant investments would also be needed to establish a hydrogen-based economy in Croatia.
The required capital investments were estimated for each of the 2 scenarios, including the costs of electrolyzers, compressors, and hydrogen tanks.
The study reads that the climate neutrality scenario requires investments of 3.1 billion euro by 2050, compared to 9.3 billion euro in the scenario of accelerated development of a hydrogen-based economy.
In February 2021, Croatia had previously announced that it plans first hydrogen production by 2025.
Main energy projects in Croatia
The main energy projects (oil and gas, LNG and renewables) in Croatia include the following:
- Ika B-1R-DIR (oil and gas);
- Izabela fields (oil and gas);
- LNG Krk Terminal (LNG);
- Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (LNG);
- Interconnector Croatia-Serbia (LNG);
- The Virje and Sisak Solar Parks (solar);
- Korlat Solar Park (solar);
- Senj Wind Farm (wind);
- Opor and Boraja Wind Farms (wind);
- Two Wind Farms in Zadar region (wind).
Displaying Croatia’s potential
In March 2023, IN-VR hosted the eighth version of the Balkans Energy Summit in Athens, where the aforementioned topics were discussed; the event had a special focus on hydrocarbons exploration, securing investments, clean project development, and overcoming energy poverty. Furthermore, participants had the chance to display the country’s role in the Balkans region, and the steps needed in order to become one of Europe’s strategic powerhouses and important transportation corridors. This event will be hosted once again in 2024.