The Czech Republic will not reimburse photovoltaic power plant operators for damages incurred with the disposal of electrical waste from solar panels. The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the Ministry of the Environment’s appeal, reversed the Prague courts’ decision, and dismissed the lawsuit of Vysočina Wind, which demanded approximately CZK 1.6 million plus interest.
In its lawsuit, Vysočina Wind had accused the Ministry of the Environment of having amended the Waste Act effective January 2013 to include a provision that obliged solar power plant operators to contribute to the treatment, recovery, and disposal of electrical waste from panels.
However, the European Directive also required that their producers bear the costs of disposal of waste from panels. According to the lawsuit, the state failed to transpose the directive correctly and on time into Czech law, causing damage to the power plant operators.
The EU Court of Justice annulled the point in the directive
Two years ago, the Supreme Court referred a preliminary question to the EU Court of Justice. This year, the Court ruled that the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive was partially repealed, precisely at the point that obliged manufacturers to finance the disposal costs of panels from 2005 to 2012.
The contradiction between Czech law and the European directive has thus disappeared, and the Czech Republic could pass on the costs to the operators of power plants.
The Supreme Court decision reads: “The liability of the defendant (the Czech Republic) for damages corresponding to the amounts paid by the applicant (Vysočina Wind) for these costs is therefore excluded.” The Supreme Court will now quickly decide on other appeals in similar disputes. These are most of the cases pending before the Supreme Court for more than two years.