Prague - One year ago, the second biggest solar energy plant in the world was opened in a former military zone in Brandenburg, Germany. The local government says that by renting the parcel for 20 years, it will earn enough to clean the devastated zone which will eventually become a protected landscape area.
The Czech government is in a similar position - it needs money to clean the ecological damage done during the Communist era in many parts of the country. However, unlike Germany, the government refuses to let the so-called brownfield zones (ecologically devastated former industrial or military areas) to be used for solar energy production.
The Chamber of Deputies is going to vote on an amendment to the renewable energy sources law on Tuesday 9 November. If it will be approved (which is very likely), only small rooftop solar panels will be allowed to sell the energy they produce with subsidized prices since March 2011 on.
This means that the solar plants built in brownfield zones will be put into the same category as the solar panels installed in open meadows and fields, which are criticized for harming the scenery.
The measure will deliver a blow to the brownfield solar plants already existing in the Czech Republic, some of which are among the country's largest solar energy plants.
Some of the MPs are not happy with such radical cut in subventions for solar energy production. Some of these "fotovoltaic dissidents" are in the government's own camp.
However, it was Jiří Krátký from the Czech Social Democratic Party, the Czech Republic's largest opposition party, who suggested during the second reading of the amendment that brownfield solar plants should be given the same preference as rooftop solar panels.
"There is not even the slightest reason why solar plants should not be built in so-called brownfield sites, where they do not damage the scenery," said Martin Sedlák from the Rainbow Movement (Hnutí Duha), a Czech environmentalist group.
"Enough of solar energy"
However, the chance is small that these suggestions will be taken in account. Industry Minister Martin Kocourek says that there are already enough solar plants in the Czech Republic and the country does not need new ones. Kocourek believes that it is sufficient if the state subsidizes the small rooftop ones.
According to Kocourek, the government wants the total solar energy output in the Czech Republic to be 2000 megawatt. According to the estimates, this year the output will be 1600 megawatt. "We are already approaching the limit," the minister said to the members of the economic committee of the Chamber of Deputies.