Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Future Bjelovar Communal Geothermal Power Plant to be First in Croatia

December the 14th, 2022 - The future Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant will be the first in all of the Republic of Croatia, and despite already being the very heart of the use of geothermal power in this country, this will throw the spotlight on Bjelovar even more.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as stated, the continental Croatian town of Bjelovar is already the national centre of the use of geothermal sources, and the only geothermal power plant for the production of electricity (GE Velika Ciglena) is located on its territory. This town will raise its leadership position in this segment to the European level in the coming period with the construction of the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant.

Although electricity can be produced from hot water, this technology is much more useful for thermal energy, especially for public hot water systems, in which Bjelovar will also lead the way. Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak announced that this town will embark on just such a project - the construction of the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant that will supply heat to the majority of public and apartment buildings across the area.

"The documentation regarding the boreholes made by INA over the past 60 years, done in search of gas and oil, shows that our entire area, including the centre of Bjelovar itself, is very suitable for the application of geothermal technology. We estimated that the green area next to the stadium is the location where we'll start the feasibility study and the investment in the first communal power plant of this kind in all of Croatia. It's an ideal position because within a small radius of just 800 metres, there are a large number of public buildings and large energy consumers - three high schools with a sports hall, a primary school with a hall, the police station, a retirement home, student dorms, and, in particular, a hospital that needs very large amount of heat to function. In addition, there are two districts with multi-apartment buildings, and it's clear what the benefits of this project would be", Hrebak explained, adding that the necessary infrastructure is relatively small because everything is already located nearby.

If this project is implemented according to plan, they expect to be able to build two to four more such thermal power plants in Bjelovar over the coming years and thus cover the entire area with hot water pipes where the water temperature is higher than 70 degrees Celsius.

They don't want to speculate about the specific deadlines and costs of the so-called "Operation Stadium" because the project has only just started, that is, a feasibility study is underway, which should be completed by the end of the year. However, Hrebak is more than sure that it will show profitability and expects that it should all have a similar process to the deadlines and dimensions of their already advanced Veliko Korenovo project on the outskirts of the town, next to the Bjelovar Fair. This was a large investment of 3.5 million euros that was developed over two years.

He estimates that Bjelovar has a total potential of around 30 MW of installed energy capacity in geothermal technology. Given that the town has a maximum, or peak, consumption of 40 MW of electricity, it's clear that with only its hot water sources, Bjelovar could become a very elegant, long-term and inexpensive energy-neutral environment. So far, there is only one operational geothermal power plant in all of Croatia, Velika Ciglena near Bjelovar with a capacity of 10 MW, and there are about ten more such projects in some stage of development.

Despite the ownership struggles of Dragan Jurilj and his Turkish partners from MB Holding, GE Velika Ciglena has shown that such projects can be realised in this country despite issues and that energy can be produced. Although they also plan to produce electricity in Bjelovar, currently their primary focus is being placed on heat. The construction of a well for the use of geothermal energy in the settlement of Veliko Korenovo will also soon begin. It is a project whose goal is to increase the production of energy from renewable sources, reduce CO2 emissions and increase security of supply. The total value of the project stands at 3.47 million euros, of which 1.3 million euros are grants.

A quick return on investment

Hrebak pointed out that the return on the investment poured into the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant is planned in just a few years after exploitation, and it will indirectly create a large number of jobs. He added that a public procurement for the contractor is planned to be announced some time this month, and drilling is expected to begin in the middle of next year. Drilling will take a little more than one month to carry out, and it is expected that they'll find a source of water with a temperature of around 70°C, which would be used to heat the greenhouses, the Bjelovar Fair, and the Veliko Korenovo business zone. The mayor noted that it could be the first real "district heating" project in all of Croatia.

The project was co-financed by the "Energy and Climate Change" Programme of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union (EU) Funds, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland as donor countries and the programme partner of the Hrvoje Pozar Energy Institute.

Along with the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant, they also plan to build a Thermal Riviera, or a spa, on the basis of geothermal sources. The plan, as explained by Mayor Hrebak, is to submit the Spa and Stadium project to the tenders of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in February next year, from which the majority of the investment would be financed.

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Thursday, 24 March 2022

Krizevci, Bjelovar, Karlovac... Croatian Geothermal Investment Wave Begins

March the 24th, 2022 - The Croatian geothermal investment wave has well and truly begun, with investments in many continental Croatian cities, including Bjelovar, Krizevci and Sveta Nedelja.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, over recent days, announcements from various cities in the continental part of the country that they have managed to obtain grants for the development and preparation of their projects for the use of geothermal springs have been able to be read in the media. The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds has conducted two tenders, which cover most of the costs of preparing all of the necessary technical documentation and to increase the capacity of geothermal energy production.

A total of three million euros was made available for documentation preparation projects, and almost five million euros was set aside for increasing production capacity. The Ministry hasn't yet announced the final results, but the cities of Bjelovar, Sveta Nedelja, Krizevci and Karlovac were the first to boast that they had received a positive response.

However, this is just the beginning, the real impetus for the use of geothermal springs, which Croatia abounds in, is yet to come. Through the NPOO programme, the Hydrocarbons Agency was approved 225 million kuna for projects to confirm geothermal potential, with the aim of using geothermal energy in heating.

It is already foreseen in the NPOO that six projects will be included, and although it isn't known by which criteria, a list of who will be candidates for a slice of the "cake" is already ready. It has been announced in the NPOO that Velika Gorica, Osijek, Donji Miholjac, Vukovar, Djurdjenovac, Zapresic, Pozega, Vinkovci and Sisak will all compete to enter the shortlist.

These are all sites that are already known to have great potential, and through the NPOO programme, the intention is to finance the assessment of geothermal deposits in four cases, and in two projects an exploration well would be built, which is crucial for obtaining geothermal water permits and as such continuing the Croatian geothermal investment wave.

The Agency for Hydrocarbons has been authorised to carry out oil and mining works on geothermal potential testing in various locations across the country, and according to the timetable, six selected projects should be ready by mid-2026.

As was made clear in the NPOO, large stand-alone projects aren't planned to support and co-finance on this basis, but the space in the new budget period will be made available through the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme, through which about 25 projects are planned in this regard.

The city of Sveta Nedelja already has one user of geothermal springs. Late last year, the Ministry of Economy granted a 20-year concession to a private investor, Eko Plodovi, a sister company of Rajska cherry tomatoes, whose geothermal sources provide the energy for greenhouses.

The new project, supported by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds provided by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, will be supported by the City of Sveta Nedelja, and Mayor Dario Zurovec says several locations will be valorised.

The choice of locations

"One of them refers to the northwestern area, near the business zone, where geothermal water could be used to heat both public and private spaces, and the other is the southern part of the city, with many industrial consumers and public facilities," said Zurovec. A pool project is also planned, and the study will, according to Zurovec, show where the best location will end up being. The heating of the public swimming pool is also planned, but it isn't yet known at which location it will be built.

However, Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak knows where the swimming pool will be in his area, which will certainly use geothermal springs. The city already has a project ready, it has even obtained building permits, and Bjelovar's pools and the entire system would be heated by a project for which the grants were obtained in these two tenders. More can be read about that here.

Karlovac and its energy company GeotermiKA, which already has a license to explore geothermal sources, managed to provide more than 3.5 million kuna for the development of the project, which intends to ensure the production of heat, primarily for public buildings, hospitals, schools, kindergartens and public lighting.

A step ahead

In addition to European funds being absorbed in this Croatian geothermal investment plan, the preparation of these projects is also being carried out by individual counties, such as Virovitica-Podravina and Osijek-Baranja. In this year's county budget, the people of Virovitica have provided 1.5 million kuna in support for the preparation of all of the documentation for research into the potential of geothermal springs in their area, and the city company Poslovni park Virovitica already has a permit for undertaking all of the research in that area.

Several years ago, Osijek-Slavonia County Prefect Ivan Anusic took secured almost three million kuna for the preparation of all of the study-technical documentation for geothermal potential exploration, also financed from EU sources, which, according to him, detected five micro-locations.

He added that an investment study is currently being prepared, which will determine what is suitable for exploitation in certain areas, ie for the needs of heating, tourism and agrogeothermy, and part for the production of electricity, because the deposits have a temperature of up to 120 celsius.

It has long been known that the Republic of Croatia is very rich in geothermal resources, and it is generally well prepared in terms of project preparation. With the new EU green policy and the current energy crisis culminating in the Ukrainian-Russian war, it has been confirmed that this is no longer a fad and a trend, but a necessity, and those who started with their preparations earlier are certainly at an advantage now.

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