The Hrastnik municipality, part of a coal region undergoing economic transformation, now hosts the largest solar power plant in Slovenia, built by HSE, and another similar project is underway. Furthermore, the local authority just gave the green light for the foundation of an energy community that is planning to install the biggest citizen-owned photovoltaic system in the country.
State-owned Holding Slovenske elektrarne (HSE), Slovenia’s largest electricity producer, completed the 3 MW Prapretno solar power plant, the biggest in the country. The facility was built on a rehabilitated landfill that belonged to the defunct coal-fired Trbovlje thermal power plant.
According to the announcement, the photovoltaic facility in Prapretno pri Hrastniku can be expanded to 13 MW. The utility earlier suggested it would increase the capacity to 16 MW. The Hrastnik municipality is in Zasavje, one of the country’s two coal regions, and it is undergoing economic transformation after coal mining ceased and the power plant was shut down.
Small hydro, solar power plants for energy security
Prime Minister Janez Janša, who inaugurated the solar power plant, pointed to the current energy crisis and the importance of having electricity sources as close to home as possible. That is why the construction of small hydropower plants and small solar power plants doesn’t need to be promoted only from an environmental point of view and the need for a green transition, but also for security reasons, he added.
“We plan to secure solar power supply for about half of households in the next decade, which will require billions in investments,” Janša stated.
Chief Executive Officer Viktor Vračar said HSE would also invest in the expansion of the Zlatoličje-Formin solar power plant and that it is looking at opportunities for wind energy utilization.
The contractor was HTZ, which originated in the coal industry
Between 1986 and 2010, more than 8.7 million tons of fly ash and slag from the Trbovlje thermal power plant were deposited on the site. The new photovoltaic plant has 6,748 modules and an estimated annual output of more than 3 GWh per year, HSE said. It is the equivalent of the electricity consumption of 800 households, it added.
The facility was designed by HSE Invest, which also obtained a building permit for the project and supervised the construction. The utility’s contractor was HTZ from Velenje, a firm preparing for the transition away from the coal industry, where it originated. It also got the contract for the Zlatoličje solar power plant.
Another photovoltaic plant to be installed at site of former coal mine
Mayor Marko Funkl said the project would be expanded to the territory of a neighboring municipality. “Let Hrastnik be the sunniest municipality in Slovenia!” he stated.
Hrastnik has the ambition to host the largest citizen-owned solar power system in Slovenia this year. The municipal council has just approved the proposal for the establishment of an energy community or cooperative.
The inhabitants of Hrastnik will be able to participate in a 300 kW rooftop solar system by investing EUR 150 per kW
The photovoltaic unit, of 300 kW, is planned to be installed on the roof of an elementary school. The project is estimated at EUR 235,000, of which the Ministry of Infrastructure is set to provide a grant for 20% while 60% should be covered by a loan. Citizens will be able to purchase 1 kW for EUR 150, the local authority revealed.
Rudis said late last year that it intends to install a solar power plant with a peak capacity of 1.5 MW at the site of the former Trbovlje-Hrastnik coal mine and its tailings dump.