One thing is certain: the years of inefficient energy use are behind us, and the future belongs to those who approach energy generation, transmission, and consumption with much more prudence, Borko Torbica, vice president of Elnos Group, says in an interview with Balkan Green Energy News. Torbica explained how Elnos Group, an electricity company from the region, has grown to become a European concern which operates successfully in the most developed Western markets. He also stressed that the region has a vast potential for the development of renewable energy sources, noting that the years to come will be a great opportunity for launching multiple investment cycles.
As one of the platforms for the region to promote its investment potentials, Torbica highlighted the Trebinje Energy Summit – SET 2020, which Elnos Group has supported and in which it will take an active part together with its business partners.
SET 2020, according to him, comes at the time when a new future of energy is being written, and it has the potential to grow into a regional center for discussions on the energy sector development, with the aim of enabling regional countries to become bigger players in the EU market.
Elnos Group has a decades-long tradition and it operates in as many as 10 countries in Europe. As an electricity company coming from this region, how did you manage to build such a strong presence, not only in regional markets, but also in the demanding markets of developed European countries?
Elnos Group is an international group comprising national companies in 10 European countries. We specialize in electrical energy engineering, with a high level of expert knowledge, and we invest constantly and with dedication in personnel and new technologies.
Adhering to the company’s 75-year tradition, we have grown into a European international concern, which employs more than 500 people in Southeastern, Central, and Northern Europe
Venturing into the international market was a great challenge for our engineering business, but we dared to take the leap, and we made it. Embracing new standards and corporate culture brought a new quality into our business.
If you’re committed to achieving superior performance, there are no obstacles to success in Europe and the world.
Looking back, we have to be proud, because we can see that while adhering to the 75-year long tradition and our company code, we have grown into a European multinational concern, which employs more than 500 workers and whose business focuses on three European regions: Southeastern Europe, Central Europe, and Northern Europe.
Could you talk about some of Elnos Group’s most significant projects?
Elnos Group has built a name that has become a synonym for quality and a trustworthy and reliable partner. By developing internal operating procedures and implementing contemporary project management methodologies, we have certainly achieved a top quality in our projects. Our past projects speak volumes about us. They are like a story about the path filled with challenges that we had walked on.
The company has helped build several hundred megawatts of installed capacity in the renewable energy sector
In the past two decades, we have implemented projects that are changing the face of energy in Europe. We particularly emphasize our credentials in renewable energy, where we have taken part in the construction of several hundred MW of installed capacity in hydropower, wind energy, biomass, and, more recently, solar energy.
We have built large infrastructural facilities and interconnectors on power lines all over Europe. We have taken part in projects to build high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) systems, which are masterpieces of modern technology and which have linked the coasts of the Adriatic Sea and the North Sea with undersea cables.
In Southeastern Europe, we have implemented a large number of projects in Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska, North Macedonia, Slovenia, and Croatia. A big step for the company was entering the Scandinavian market, and our most recent projects were realized in Central and Western Europe.
In Scandinavia, Elnos Group has a track record of over 40 successfully implemented projects
Over 40 projects implemented in Scandinavia – Sweden, Norway, and Iceland – provide a special hallmark for our name and work, a hallmark that is making us recognizable throughout Europe.
In Iceland, for example, we participated in the construction of the 100 MW Burfell 2 hydropower plant, a demanding project that required working at 100 meters below the ground. Also in Iceland, we helped build two 220 kV transmission lines over lava fields – Þeistareykjalína 1 and Kröflulína 4. We have also built a GIS substation at geothermal power plant Krafla and launched construction last year on the longest transmission line to be built in the country in the past 30 years.
We took part in the construction of Europe’s longest HVCD system, between Germany and Norway
Our participation in the ongoing construction of Europe’s longest HVDC system, between Germany and Norway, the so-called NordLink interconnector, where we are performing electrical assembly works on the 1,400 MW, +/- 515 kV DC Ertsmyra transformer station in Norway, has put us among the top quality engineering companies in Norway.
In Sweden last year, our position as a quality, reliable, and trustworthy partner was reaffirmed by the following projects: the 400 kV substation Skoggsäter, the 130/50/20 kV substation Farhult, the 50/10 kV substtaion Böda-Löttorp, and a new 220 kV transmission line between the 400/220 kV substation Rätan and the 400/130 kV substation Länsterhöjden.
The beginning of the implementation of a new project in Germany in 2020, the 380kV Audorf-Flensburg transmission line, is reaffirming the highest levels of our quality standards as we are working in one of Europe’s most demanding markets.
We were also part of the Čibuk project – the largest wind farm in the Western Balkans
In Serbia in the past few years, we have carried out important projects in the field of renewable energy sources, most notably Čibuk, the largest wind farm in the Western Balkans, with an installed capacity of 158 MW. This year we are completing multiyear capital projects in hydropower, such as the revitalization of the 124 MW Zvornik hydropower plant and seven small hydropower plants (250 kW to 2.5 MW) in cooperation with state power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS).
We were also part of EPS’ first “green” project in the mining sector, through the construction of Spreader FL Smidth 12.000, a modern mining machine that improved the homogeneity of ore and enabled a more efficient and environmentally-friendly coal mining.
In Republika Srpska last year, we completed part of the work on one of the region’s biggest environmental projects in the field of energy – desulfurization at thermal power plant Ugljevik. We have also put in operation the 10 MW Bočac 2 small hydropower plant, as one of the key participants in the project.
In Republika Srpska, we place particular emphasis on the comprehensive modernization of medium- and low-voltage network of Elektroprivreda RS
We are proud to have taken part in the construction of the 50 MW biomass heating plant Eko toplana Banjaluka, a project that has scooped numerous international awards, securing Banja Luka a place among the European green cities.
In Republika Srpska, we put a particular emphasis on the comprehensive modernization of the medium- and low-voltage network of state power utility Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), a project with high standards, financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), whose implementation will improve the quality of electricity supply, reduce network losses, and increase the system’s efficiency (SAIDI and SAIFI indexes).
For years, Europe and the entire world have been pursuing energy transition and seeking solutions to ensure a sustainable energy future. The European Union (EU) has recently adopted a Green Deal, reaffirming its commitment to sustainable development. To what extent and how is the concept of energy transition incorporated into Elnos Group’s development plans? Where does the region stand when it comes to energy transition and the EU’s latest plans?
Europe has long realized that the future of energy belongs to those who know how to conserve energy. The concept of energy sustainability is no longer a novelty, but rather a standard, and the Green Deal is a package of very ambitious measures for Europe’s new green mission. This document envisages new investments in top-quality research and innovation, as well as environmental protection.
One thing is certain: the years of inefficient energy use are behind us
One thing is certain: the years of inefficient energy use are behind us, and the future belongs to those who approach energy generation, transmission, and consumption with much more prudence and control the consumption of each MWh.
In 2018, we were in involved in projects to install 365 MW of green energy capacities
Keeping up with the demands of an a sustainable energy future, Elnos Group’s operations have for years been oriented towards increasing renewable energy capacity, as well as developing smart grids in cities. We are pleased to say that in 2018 alone, through participation in various projects, we helped create 365 MW of green energy capacity, contributing to Earth’s transition towards green energy sources.
Elnos Group was one of the pioneers of the Smart City project in Novi Sad in 2012
We consider the task of creating the conditions for sustainable energy to be our true calling, and we are especially proud of the fact that Elnos Group was one of the pioneers in the implementation of the Smart City project in Novi Sad in 2012. Through this project, in cooperation with Schneider Electric, we integrated electricity management, storage, and consumption control, creating all the necessary conditions for the city’s e-mobility.
Lagging is the main impression when it comes to the region’s standing in relation to EU goals
As for the region’s current standing in relation to achievements in developing electrical energy goals in the EU, it could briefly be described with the word “lagging,” with a different situation in each country.
As a company that has built its leading position in Southeastern Europe, Elnos Group recognizes its role in sharing the knowledge and experience from the EU with partners in countries of the region (power utilities, governments, etc.) with the aim of finding a new vision of the energy system that will shape policies and strategies for the future of energy, guide investments, and change people’s minds.*
Changes that are taking place in the energy sector could be an opportunity for the region not only to get a more efficient, cleaner, and more advanced energy system, but also to ensure economic development. What is the region’s potential in renewable energy sources? What is the significance of investment in renewables for economic development in the region?
Given the vast potentials of our region when it comes to developing renewable energy sources, the years to come will certainly be a great opportunity for initiating investment cycles.
Green projects bring numerous economic benefits, and they can be of immeasurable significance for the economic development of the region. All it takes is to understand the opportunity and act in the right way. One of such major investment cycles, which we warmly welcome, is the announcement by the ERS general manager of the launch of construction on 1,000 MW of new renewable energy capacities in the next five years.
Certain regions, such as Herzegovina, which has a great wind and solar potential, will certainly be in the focus of the energy of the future
The region has a large renewables potential, which has been underutilized so far. What is necessary is to ensure new investments, and some regions, such as Herzegovina, which has a great wind and solar potential, will certainly be in the focus of the energy of the future. It is important to emphasize that investment in smart grids and energy-efficient buildings and technologies will certainly bring incredible benefits for the economic and energy development of the region.
Investment in smart grids and energy-efficient buildings and technologies will certainly bring incredible benefits for the economic and energy development of the region
Developing new own energy sources can bring profits and energy security, while investments in the network will help boost a more energy-efficient use of energy.
The issue of energy is very closely related to the issue of economic development, which, in turn, has always been the primary and long-term objective of all countries.
Superior technical and economically viable projects and financing models, along with the application of modern energy-efficient technologies, will create opportunities for energy sector companies and open the possibilities for creating thousands of new jobs. The application of clean technologies and the creation of quality environmental values will bring numerous benefits to people, while providing constant revenues to local communities and the state budget during exploitation.
Your company is supporting the first Trebinje Energy Summit – SET 2020. What is your role in it and what, in your view, is the significance of SET 2020, a platform for the business community and the region? What are your expectations from this gathering?
The Trebinje Energy Summit – SET 2020, in my opinion, is one of the best initiatives so far and, given everything I have talked about, its timing is perfect.
It’s the right time to promote our investment opportunities and analyze energy plans and development strategies in Southeastern Europe
This period of speedy transition towards new energy sources and a robust growth of European energy markets is the right moment to assess and promote our investment capabilities and analyze energy plans and development strategies of Southeastern Europe as thoroughly and efficiently as possible.
We can say that SET 2020 comes at the right time – the time when a new future of energy is being written and when it is necessary for us to take new leaps in order to become “bigger players” in the EU market. We need a regional conversation to set out our new, clear vision of the energy sector’s development and motivate those who are important for its realization. I believe that going forward SET 2020 has the potential to become a regional center of discussions on the energy sector’s development.