The HSE Group, the largest producer and seller of electricity from domestic sources on the wholesale market in Slovenia and the largest Slovenian producer of electricity from renewable sources, is concluding a dynamic year full of challenges and achievement.
The first half of the year was marked by exceptional hydrological conditions, which allowed the hydro power plants of the HSE Group to break all set records and achieve electricity production of 1.63 TWh as early as May 20th. It is worth mentioning that in May 2021 the company Soške Elektrarne Nova Gorica produced more than 100 GWh of renewable electricity in its hydro power plants on a monthly basis for the first time in history, and almost 125 GW together with the Avče Pumped-storage Hydro Power Plant and the Hubelj Solar Power Plant.
What contributed to the high production of the HSE Group were very favourable hydrological conditions, a highly accessible production infrastructure, favourable market conditions and effective management of the epidemic, as the production of electricity has not been limited for the entire duration of the current health crisis. The HSE Group thus remains the largest producer of electricity from renewable sources in Slovenia, as it produces more than 80% of it. While the majority of renewable electricity is produced from water power, the company’s and Slovenia’s largest solar power plant, Prapretno, will be connected to the grid as early as in the first half of 2022. The foundation stone was laid in July 2021, and as early as in August the company DEM started the constructing the first part of a larger, 30 MW solar power plant on the inflow and outflow canals of the Zlatoličje and Formin hydro power plants.
In 2021, the negotiations between HSE, the Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (TEŠ) and General Electric were successfully concluded: in March, a EUR 261 million out-of-court settlement was signed in favour of the TEŠ, which resulted in the claim for damages by the Slovenian companies in the arbitration proceedings due to a 2008 investment being withdrawn.
This year, the HSE Group also took an important step forward in terms of sale of electricity to end customers. By signing contracts for the purchase of a majority stake in ECE – the company officially joined the HSE Group in October 2021 – and Energija Plus, we have proven the HSE Group’s strategic orientation towards new markets and services, and we hope to see the first synergy effects soon.
The twentieth anniversary of the operation of the HSE Group is the stone in the mosaic that symbolically rounds off the successful year 2021. The high-profile projects that have each contributed to secure and reliable electricity supply in Slovenia over the past 20 years include the construction of hydro power plants on the lower Sava River, of the Avče Pumped-storage Hydro Power Plant, the signing of a concession contact for the construction of hydro power plants on the central Sava River, the construction of Generator 6 of the TEŠ and start of solar power production. During this time we have also been expanding geographically. Today, we are present with our trading activities in 20 European markets, and we are also present as members on all major European futures electricity exchanges. With a portfolio of adaptable sources of production of electricity, we are one of the main daily traders in Southeast Europe.
Despite the exceptionally high growth of prices of emission coupons that burden our thermal division, the HSE Group is concluding the 2021 business year successfully.
The period ahead of us will be challenging. We strive in particular to fulfil the commitments of the European Union and Slovenia related to increasing the production of electricity from renewable sources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonisation and transition to a low-carbon society, increasing self-sufficiency and ensuring reliability of electricity supply at competitive prices. Therefore, our investment plans are primarily focused on investments in renewable energy sources. However, our priorities also extend to the field of traditional energy sources. Awaiting us is the incorporation of the National Strategy for Coal Phase-out, which is to be adopted by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, in the strategic plans of HSE and the beginning of its implementation. We also believe that an a act on the gradual closure of the Velenje Coal Mine will be adopted next year to enable a controlled coal phase-out and secure financial resources for this effort. Preparing a set of projects that will preserve the energy location and jobs in the Šalek Valley will also be crucial in this respect. This project has provided a large number of opportunities and the 3,201 employees of the HSE Group have enough know-how and experience to help make the most of them.