Solar power provides sustainability to Croatian village

Candlelight in a house, young boy in the background
Remote villages in Croatia were cut off from the energy grid during war in the 1990s.

“The milk that we produce, we cannot sell,” says Mileva Desnica, who lives in the small village of Ajderovac in Croatia. “We don’t have electricity for a refrigerator, so we can only store food in the cold room for a day or two at most.”

The municipality of Gračac where the village is located was cut off from the energy grid during the war in the 1990s, and until recently, residents had to rely on diesel-powered generators and candles for lighting.

Highlights

  • 126 villages in Croatia, around 500 households, still wait for the electricity distribution network to be restored since the war in the 1990s.
  • The cost of the pilot solar system in Ajderovac has proven to be three times cheaper than traditional re-electrification.
  • It demonstrates the potential for solar energy to provide cost-effective and environmentally-sound energy solutions for remote areas of the country.

Though the mountainous area has great potential for raising livestock, lack of electricity and difficult living conditions badly hampered its economic prospects.

To help remediate this situation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) secured the installation of a solar photovoltaic system to provide energy for the community of Ajderovac.

The site will be open to the public as part of the educational activities run by the Zadar-based Solar Education Centre, created with UNDP support. The Centre educates the public about renewable energy sources and technologies and offers certified training to unemployed county residents in the assembly and installation of solar power systems.

“This project is an excellent way of demonstrating the potential for solar energy to provide cost effective and environmentally-sound energy solutions for other remote areas of Croatia, including its many islands and mountainous villages,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Croatia Louisa Vinton.

Repair and rehabilitation of the electricity distribution network is still pending for 126 villages in Croatia. ‘Traditional’ re-electrification would require an estimated EUR 6.5 million, while the cost for the pilot project of Ajderovac has proven to be three times cheaper.

“Croatia has infinite resources of sunshine, yet it has barely tapped the potential of solar energy,” said Ms. Vinton. “More than half of Croatia’s energy is imported, so not only is the country relying on harmful, high-carbon energy, it is in effect using its own resources to subsidize jobs outside the country.”