2021-11-15

A cross-border team of journalists has focused on the potential corruption of solar energy support in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. More specifically, in the Czech Republic, the government has been postponing the changes to law allowing the state-guaranteed price of solar electricity to match the decline in investment in solar electricity. 

As a result, the state guaranteed exorbitant prices until the end of 2010 to everyone who built a solar power plant. The so-called solar boom broke out. Then, from 2011, prices plummeted to less than half, with entrepreneurs scrambling to get licences for the plants that were not yet completed. Curious lawsuits are still pending until today.  Substantially the lawsuits stem from a fraudulent scheme, where the owner handed over the plant as completed, even though it was unfinished, in order to obtain a licence by the end of 2010 and thus be able to obtain the extremely favourable pre-2010 purchase price for the electricity generated in the future.


Additionally, the team has also described a case of a bribe given to representatives of one of the largest companies that built solar power plants. It involved one of the MPs who had delayed the early price cuts.


The situation in Slovakia was somewhat different, with the state determining how much solar capacity it wanted and launching a tender to fill the demand. However, the tender offer was published only four days in advance, so that only those who knew about the call in advance could effectively participate in the tender process. Among them were a number of Slovak oligarchs. Antonio Vadala, an Italian “businessman” with links to the Calabrian mafia Ndrangheta, also had plans to do business in solar in Slovakia, but in the end the plans fell through. The journalists have described the origins of corruption in the solar energy sector and its consequences on the market situation.


The first article is the opening article summarizing the infamous history of the Czech government subsidy program for renewable energy projects. The government committed to buying solar power from the subsidized power plants at fixed prices over a period of 20 years. Until the end of 2010, the agreed price was excessive which caused a fierce race for licensing of new subsidized powerplants, as these would be guaranteed a huge profit for 20 years. 

The team will bring a series of stories about the fraud and corruption which ensued from this subsidy program and the owners of the largest solar power plants.

Photo image: Lenka Matoušková


 

Team members

Pavla Holcová

Pavla Holcová is an investigative journalist and founder of investigace.cz, based in Prague.

Eva Kubaniová

Eva Kubaniová is a journalist working for investigace.cz based in Prague.

Hana Čápová

Hana has worked in investigace.cz as a reporter since summer 2019. 

Supported
€7.000 allocated on 16/04/2021
ID
ECB/2021/646

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