The highest representatives of the state gathered today near the mechanical building of the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant; President of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, representatives of ministries, power companies, companies of the HSE Group, local community representatives and others invited to celebrate fifty years of operation of the largest Slovenian hydropower plant – the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant.
The question about the construction of power plants below Maribor was already present during the construction of the upper and middle-Drava hydropower plants.
In 1962, a project for the construction of the so-called Central Drava 1 was set up, later renamed the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant, and the construction began in the autumn of 1964. Despite the financial complications typical of that period, the project was completed within four years. The first aggregate of the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant started operating on 19 October 1968 and the second in April 1969. The ceremonial opening of the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant, the largest Slovenian hydropower plant and the first channel-type power plant in what was then Yugoslavia, was on 26 April 1969, when the facility was handed over to the President of the SFRY, Josip Broz Tito.
On this occasion, we published a collection containing data on the number of employees who participated in the construction and are presented in detail in it and information on the materials used, which testify to the fact that it really was about building a very big building. At the same time, for the needs of the construction of a hydropower plant, it was also necessary to face and solve numerous professional challenges in the area of 4.5 million cubic metres of water from a large reservoir lake – in particular, the lift of the Water Tower on Lent by almost three metres – the Melje dam, the supply and drainage channel.
After almost forty years of continuous operation, the buildings began to show signs of wear, so we joined the company Dravske elektrarne Maribor to complete the renovation project, which involved renovation of the Melje dam, construction of a new small hydropower plant at Melje, renovation of the feeder channel and the machine building of the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant, carried out between 2007 and 2013. The year before, that is in 2012, with the aim of expanding production from renewable sources in the area of the hydropower plant, we also built a solar power plant called Sončni park Zlatoličje.
Today the largest Slovenian hydropower plant operates with two aggregates and after the renovation produces about 600 million kWh of electricity annually, or over 5% of all electricity in Slovenia, thus representing one of the key parts not only of Dravske elektrarne Maribor that manages it but of the entire Slovenian energy sector. In half a century, however, it has produced so much electricity that, at the present time, it would suffice for almost nine-years of consumption of all Slovenian households.
“Slovenian citizens, as well as the business sector or each of us, are the ones who will, with all the announcements of electrification and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, need electricity from renewable sources the most in the future. If we want to keep pace with European times, additional production facilities will be a necessity. If now we are reaping the fruits of our ancestors’ decisions, it is right that we also ensure our children and grandchildren a secure, energy-independent future. In the company Dravske elektrarne Maribor we always have this in mind. As soon as the conditions on the markets are favourable, additional solar power plants will be built on the feeder channel of the Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant. And at the same time, at other suitable embankments sites too. With the development of new possibilities to produce electricity from renewable sources, we will also preserve the existing production facilities in excellent condition. I am sure that our descendants will be able to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Zlatoličje Hydropower Plant”, stated the director of Dravske elektrarne Maribor, Andrej Tumpej.
Mag. Stojan Nikolić, the Director General of HSE, stated: “The HSE Group is the largest producer of electricity from renewable sources in Slovenia, almost eighty per cent is produced by our power plants on the Drava and Soča rivers. Our development plans also focus on the production of electricity in an environment- friendly way and in sustainable development. Decarbonisation is necessary. It is not only a mandatory direction, but a one-way road, and on the way along it is crucial to achieving national climate and energy goals. The projects of the HSE Group are and will remain strategically important in the future, while Dravske elektrarne Maribor continues to be an important, indispensable part of the HSE Group, Slovenian energy and Slovenia as a whole.”
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Marjan Šarec said at the event: “If we want to be an independent and energy-independent state, then we will have to produce our own electricity ourselves, talk and take actions.” He also stressed that the government is open to energy-related suggestions and cooperation, and that the responsibility of the experts is to prepare the concept, since the future of the Republic of Slovenia can only be in energy independence.