China’s Norinco International has been cleared to build a 156-MW wind farm in Croatia’s southern Lika-Senj County.
Sanjin Rukavina, the mayor of the town of Senj, confirmed that the project had received a construction permit at a recent session of the local council last week. The farm will take up an area of 44.8 square km, consisting of 39 turbines each with a 4-MW capacity. It will turn out a peak of 530,000 MWh of power per year.
Construction work is expected to take two years. Once online, the plant will generate power for 23 years.
Norinco International is an engineering subsidiary of China’s state defence conglomerate Norinco. According to its website, the company is working to implement Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which involves infrastructure projects in dozens of countries worth over US$1 trillion. One of the firm’s major investments at present is a 300,000 bpd refining project in Iraq. It is also developing a wind farm in Pakistan’s Sindh Province.
Norinco International entered the Lika-Senj wind development in December last year, snapping up a 76% stake in its Croatian operator Energija Projekt for 32 million euros (US$37.5 million). The remaining shares are controlled by a local investor, Aleksandar Dzombic. The Chinese firm plans to plough 180 million euros (US$222 million) into the wind farm. It hopes to use the project as a springboard for other investments in Croatia, not only in the energy sector.
Croatia imports near to 40% of its electricity needs, 40% of its gas and 80% of its oil. The country has a generation capacity of 4,500 MW, over half of which comes from hydroelectric dams and another fifth from coal-fired power plants. But the country has steadily expanded its use of other renewable energy sources in recent years. It hosted 519 MW of wind and 58 MW of solar capacity at the end of 2017.
There are 21 wind farms in total dotted across Croatia. Many are owned by local operators, although Germany’s Ostwind, Austria’s Ivicom and other foreign investors have also entered the market. Turbines have been supplied by Germany’s Enercon, Italy’s Leitwind, Spain’s Acciona, Denmark’s Vestas and US-based GE.