Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Ex-Minister Žalac Released from Investigative Custody

ZAGREB, 3 Jan 2022 - Former Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac has been released from investigative custody after all witnesses in the so-called Software case have been interviewed and there is no risk of her interfering with witnesses, a Zagreb County Court investigating judge ruled on Monday.

The other suspects, former Central Finance and Contracting Agency (SAFU) director Tomislav Petric and IT company owners Mladen Šimunac and Marko Jukić, are expected to be released later this week, after all, witnesses have been questioned, Hina learned from sources close to the investigation.

On 10 December, the investigating judge extended the detention of Žalac and the other suspects for a month citing a risk of witness tampering. They were arrested on 10 November on the orders of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in Zagreb, which demanded that they be remanded in custody for two months so that they could question 17-18 witnesses.

The investigation was launched by the EPPO following a criminal report filed by the National Police Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime. Žalac, Petric, Šimunac, and Jukić are suspected of defrauding the European Union and Croatia of €1.8 million.

Žalac is suspected of fixing the public procurement of an information system for strategic planning and development management for the companies owned by Šimunić and Jukić. The suspects concluded a harmful deal under which the price of the IT system was increased several times over to HRK 13.4 million (€1.8m) to the detriment of the financial interests of the EU and Croatia.

Žalac is suspected of abuse of office and official authority and of influence peddling, Petric is suspected of abuse of office and official authority, Šimunac is suspected of inciting the abuse of office and official authority, and Jukić is suspected of aiding and abetting the abuse of office and official authority.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

"Croatian Island Product" Designation Awarded to Another 78 Products

ZAGREB, 3 Jan 2022 - Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak has granted the right for 78 products nominated by 23 producers to be labeled "Croatian Island Product", her ministry said on Monday.

A total of 320 producers of 1,094 products from 24 Croatian Adriatic islands and the Pelješac peninsula now have the right to display the Croatian Island Product designation on their products.

A public call for the award of this designation was open from 7 to 29 October, and 27 applications were submitted by island producers who nominated a total of 86 products.

The products were grouped into four categories - applied art and design (51 products by 10 producers), food products (18 products by 12 producers), chemical products (15 products by 3 producers), and beverages (2 products by as many producers).

The applications were examined by competent commissions, which forwarded their proposals to Minister Tramišak based on which she decided to award the Croatian Island Product designation to 78 new products.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Adriatic Seawater-Powered Energy System: Significant Potential for Croatia

August 18, 2021 - The Adriatic seawater-powered energy system would produce energy using waves and tides. The sustainable energy system is already recognized as one of the current EU green transition solutions.

By the end of August this year, the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds will announce the first call for incentives for sea energy production projects to receive European Union funds, reports Jutarnji List.

Sea energy production using waves, tides, and special heat pumps with seawater is in its infancy in the European Union. However, along with wind farms, solar, and hydrogen, it is recognized as one of the solutions in the current EU green transition.

"The Republic of Croatia has significant potential for developing renewable energy sources, especially for the application of seawater technologies. One of the solutions that could be especially applicable to Croatia, due to its long coastline, is seawater heat pump systems or SDTMV systems," reads the public invitation of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds, which decided at this stage to encourage the production of energy from the sea to support seawater heat pumps. Namely, although there are several mentioned technologies in the range of sea energy production, the state estimated that the most interest could be for cranes, i.e., as stated in the invitation, for installing heating and cooling systems using heat pumps from offshore energy.

"Since the level of development of marine technologies in Croatia is not high, only SDTMV will be considered, crane systems that provide a generally stable and continuous source of heating and cooling of seawater that acts as a stable and reliable heat source. Therefore, although there may be high investment costs, the pilot project needs to be explored," reads the position of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds. In any case, according to the call's content, it is expected that municipalities and coastal cities, among others, could apply with the associated projects.

According to available data, the technology of sea energy production is already used in several locations along the coast. Currently, its application, among others, is being done by the Istrian Regional Energy Agency (IRENA) in cooperation with the City of Poreč. This is a project to install a seawater heat pump system for the Poreč city administration building. Furthermore, according to IRENA, several other public buildings near the building can be connected to the common circuit of seawater distribution as the main source of heat and thus build an environmentally neutral and financially efficient heating and cooling system in Poreč.

In addition to the coastal city and municipal administrations, marine energy production technology, judging by the experiences from Italy presented at the IRENA meetings, could use ports and marinas to deliver surplus energy to the grid. For example, in the Ancona port, according to the same source, there are plans to install 50 devices that would occupy 200 m of the coastline. The investment worth 670 thousand euros would have a payback period of nine years with an annual production of 670 thousand kilowatt-hours of electricity.

In any case, one and a half million euros are available to interested domestic scientists and investors in the mentioned call, with a minimum (200 thousand euros) and maximum withdrawal limits of 1.3 million euros per project. The share that the state is willing to co-finance in the total project budget varies from 50 percent for small to 30 percent for large entrepreneurs.

"Successfully implemented pilot projects for sea energy production would also increase the capacities and skills of suppliers and developers and consequently contribute to lower costs of SDTMV installations in the future," points out the Ministry.

The project preparation, promotion, and management are co-financed. It is planned that the corresponding contracts on the projects that received co-financing will be signed in May next year at the latest, with the obligation to use the withdrawn money by April 2024.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.