CEE can lower electricity prices by a third by 2030 with ambitious wind and solar deployment

  • Warsaw

  • 15 May 2023

New analysis from energy think tank Ember finds that Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries could deploy 200 GW of wind and solar by 2030 and lower average electricity wholesale prices by 29%, compared to a scenario based on current policy conditions. Ember’s model finds CEE is likely to deploy just half that capacity if there are no improvements to renewables policies across the region.

CEE currently generates just 25% of electricity from renewables, compared to 55% from fossil fuels. This has resulted in some of the most expensive electricity prices in the EU, and has made the region vulnerable to volatile costs and supply issues. 

Over the last year there has been a change, with CEE wind and solar capacity growing by around 28%, above the EU-wide average growth of 15%. However, official targets are low, and barriers to renewable deployment persist across the CEE region. According to Ember’s model, replacing these with supportive and coordinated policies could see the region reaching 63% renewables share in 2030, just shy of the EU’s 69% target set in REPowerEU.

This report comes as important deadlines for energy planning approach, with updates to National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) due by mid 2023, and the required inclusion of REPowerEU chapters in Recovery and Resilience Plans this spring. Current renewables targets in most CEE countries are significantly below those elsewhere in the EU, with Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czechia and Poland accounting for the lowest targets among all EU countries in their current NECPs. 

Increasing wind and solar targets would bring important benefits for CEE governments, opening at least €137 billion in EU funding to invest in the energy transition. Ember’s modelling shows that it is possible for the region to build a surplus of low-cost green electricity, attracting new investments and increasing economic competitiveness. With 200 GW wind and solar, CEE could export 23 TWh of electricity in 2030, compared to importing 7 TWh in 2022. 

This report shows what's possible for Central and Eastern Europe: a thriving, connected region powered by bountiful wind and solar. Not only will wind and solar bring economic benefits, but they are also an absolutely crucial tool to build energy security given the region’s history and close proximity to Russia. Central and Eastern Europe needs to channel the clean power momentum sweeping across Europe, failing to do so will have dire economic and security consequences.

Dr Paweł Czyżak Senior Energy & Climate Data Analyst at Ember

A large part of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have fallen asleep in the deployment of renewable energy. However, even historically fossil fuel reliant countries like Czechia are now starting to notice the benefits of the energy transition. But the removal of barriers to renewables must be completed as soon as possible: the preparation of a project, for example a wind turbine, must not take 10 or more years, but a year or two at most.

Stepan Chalupa Chair of the Czech Renewable Energy Chamber

Poland is already one of Europe's solar leaders, and we see similar potential across Central and Eastern Europe. Today and tomorrow, homegrown renewables are the basis of European energy security - system operators must prepare the grid accordingly. In an energy and climate crisis, we can't afford to waste a single ray of sunlight.

Walburga Hemetsberger CEO of SolarPower Europe

Central and Eastern Europe already produces many components for wind turbines. They will benefit from the expansion of wind. They have great potential for more wind farms too. And more wind farms means cheaper electricity. So more wind is win-win-win for Central and Eastern Europe.

Giles Dickson WindEurope CEO