The European energy sector has been changing rapidly in recent years and one of the driving forces of this process
is innovation. Most of energy companies recognised the importance of investments in new technologies which bring
substantial economic and environmental benefits and allow to adapt to the new market realities. In Central Europe,
though not a forefront region when it comes to innovation, companies are increasingly devoted to developing and
transforming their businesses, using new technologies and innovations. The efforts are tangible and Central European
countries are more and more advanced in the process of energy transition.
National governments have started to promote sustainable energy, innovation and new technologies in energy
systems. Energy companies across the region adapt their business models, develop new-tech expertise and offer
innovative solutions. Sector of energy-focused start-ups is developing rapidly, while scientific institutes engage in
numerous research projects. All of these developments pass largely unnoticed by the majority of external observers.
Although countries do not introduce spectacular R&D policies, there are few eye-catching examples of technological
breakthroughs coming from the region. What is happening in Central Europe is more similar to a quiet revolution—a
number of steady changes in policies, businesses and academia, which taken together trigger innovation and improve
functioning of energy systems.
This paper aims to briefly present major issues on energy innovation development in Central and Southeastern
Europe (referred further as EU-11). The concept of energy innovation is blurred and inclusive and it is difficult to
determine its real boundaries. So, we treat this topic widely, showing the general changes that lead to modernisation
of the energy systems.
The paper is divided into three main sections. The first describes the general approach of national governments
and business sectors in the region towards energy innovation. We show the pattern of growing interest in energy
innovation and present the main challenges experienced so far, such as low financing levels. The second part shows
several examples of energy innovation ‘in action’. In particular, the implementation of the new technologies in
power production and transmission (inter alia RES penetration and implementation of smart grids), application of
new technologies in traditional energy industries (nuclear and clean-coal technologies) and trends of electrification
of transport. We also show a few interesting cases of new business models emerging in the energy sector. Thirdly, we
offer several policy recommendations to support energy innovation in the region and move the process of energy
transition forward.
This paper presents a broad picture of the region and general trends and was drafted with the support of seven
research institutions from the Czech Republic (Masaryk University), Hungary (REKK), Lithuania (Kaunas University of
Technology), Poland (Sobieski Institute), Romania (Romanian Energy Center) and Slovakia (SFPA) as well as Electric
Vehicles Promotion Foundation (Poland).