Electricity

State-owned DEM to operate Slovenia’s fourth wind turbine

State owned DEM operate Slovenia fourth wind turbine

Photo: Freepik

Published

May 10, 2024

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Published:

May 10, 2024

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Dravske elektrarne Maribor hired Ljubljana-based Hmezad TMT for the construction of a single-turbine wind power plant in southern Slovenia. The country’s wind power portfolio only consists of three such small standalone machines.

In Slovenia, local communities and authorities have a say when it comes to wind power in spatial planning and beyond, while environmental rules are strict. On the other hand, it earned it the second-lowest place in the European Union in wind power capacity. Hydropower plant operator Dravske elektrarne Maribor (DEM) is expanding its energy mix as it contracted the construction of one standalone wind turbine, of just 1 MW, in Loški Potok.

Slovenia currently has only three such small units, also as separate power stations. Moreover, the last one hasn’t even started operating as of recently, according to domestic media. The combined capacity was roughly 3 MW at the end of last year, the International Renewable Energy Agency said.

Population distribution, protected areas limit space for wind power plants

The country has the highest share of Natura 2000 protected areas in the EU, the European Environment Agency’s latest data shows. It amounts to 37.9%, compared to the 18.5% average.

The population in Slovenia is distributed relatively evenly and living mostly in villages and towns. Less than a quarter of people live in cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants.

It all narrows the possibilities for the placement of wind turbines. Just a month ago the government sunk one proposal. There is no shortage of projects, though.

The government recently approved a decree stipulating that municipalities are entitled to EUR 200,000 per MW for all new wind turbines on their territories. The aim is to win over local communities opposing such power plants.

Investment in Loški Potok is worth just under EUR 2.5 million

Dravske elektrarne Maribor said it signed a deal with the contractor, Ljubljana-based Hmezad TMT, to begin construction before the start of the summer. It is due for completion by the end of the year.

The unit named after the Mali Log village in the municipality of Loški Potok will be the first in state ownership. Namely, DEM is part of government-controlled energy utility Holding Slovenske elektrarne – HSE.

The authorities issued the construction permit several months ago. The investment is worth just under EUR 2.5 million, DEM revealed. It pointed out that during project development it particularly focused on bird protection. In addition, the firm highlighted the importance of “transparent and regular communication” with the locals.

The Mali Log wind power project was developed with Lesna zadruga Loški Potok, a local cooperative that citizens established as a social enterprise for utilizing wood biomass for heating.

According to reports from several years ago, when the investment was in the planning phase, nine wind turbines were envisaged. The cooperative intended to use the electricity for water supply, sewage pumps and even public lighting.

Dravske elektrarne Maribor also has wind power projects Ojstrica, Paški Kozjak and Rogatec in the pipeline. Their combined capacity would be 46 MW. The utility intends to build a pumped storage hydropower plant as well. It is participating in a pilot geothermal power project and preparing investments in energy storage.

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