The 156 megawatt capacity wind farm stretches over about 60 square kilometres inland from the northern Adriatic town of Senj. It has 39 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 4 MW, and the estimated annual production capacity is 530 million kWh.
The wind farm was built by the Croatian subsidiary of the Chinese state company Norinco International Cooperation, the majority owner of the Senj-based energy company Energija Projekt.
The wind farm was opened remotely by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who pressed the button at a ceremony in the Hotel Sheraton in Zagreb, with representatives of the Chinese company attending.
Plenković said that the project would contribute to Croatia’s green transition. Being a Chinese investment, he noted that this was a unique project in central and eastern Europe making Norinco one of the largest investors in the green economy in Croatia.
The project will also contribute to the active use of renewable energy sources. The 39 wind turbines and their total annual output of about 0.5 terawatt-hours will make an important contribution to total electricity production in Croatia, the prime minister said.
“One of the main objectives is to increase the production of electricity from renewable sources to 30 per cent already next year, and I think projects like this will help us achieve that objective,” Plenković said. “That will help reduce electricity imports and further promote low-carbon development with the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050,” the prime minister said, noting that the capacity of the wind farms in Croatia had increased by 65 per cent over the last five years.
Project should be viewed in wider context of Croatia-China relations
The prime minister also said he wanted to put the project in the wider context of the relations between Croatia and China, which which the Croatian government decided to advance relations in recent years.
In doing so, Croatia utilised the China+17 format and hosted in Dubrovnik in spring 2019 a meeting of that initiative, which connects China and countries in central and eastern Europe, Plenković said, recalling that Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang attended.
The China+17 format has markedly advanced and intensified China-Croatia relations, with trade amounting to €1.4 billion in 2020 and even more this year.
“That shows that in a time of responsibility for this government, Croatia-China relations have gained quite another dimension,” Plenković said, recalling that he officially visited China in autumn 2018, when he talked about this investment with Norinco’s executives.
He voiced hope that there will be more Chinese investment in Croatia, and mentioned the construction of Pelješac Bridge, calling it the most visible and significant project by Chinese companies in Croatia.
The prime minister also recalled China’s assistance in the procurement of protective gear during the pandemic.
Addresses were also made by representatives of Norinco, a representative of the Chinese Embassy, and by Norinco CEO Jiao Kaihe and Croatian Ambassador Dario Mihelin via video from Beijing. A note of congratulations from the Chinese prime minister was also read out.
The Belt and Road Initiative
The Chinese highlighted their Belt and Road Initiative as part of which they are funding infrastructure building in many countries. For the project in Senj and Brinje they hired more than 40 local subcontractors and suppliers as well as 260 domestic workers.
They also said the project will contribute to green and low-carbon development, the development of the local community, and deeper Croatia-China relations.
They said China will accelerate its green transition as well as actively support and intensify international cooperation in the green economy. Also, they said China’s development is not a threat but can benefit the whole world, including Croatia.
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