The company, Dravske elektrarne Maribor, the largest producer of electricity from renewable sources in Slovenia and part of the HSE Group, was visited today by Prime Minister Dr Robert Golob, Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh, the Minister of Digital Transformation and mag. Bojan Kumer, the Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy. The governmental delegation was received by mag. Damjan Seme, Director General of DEM, Uroš Podobnik, Chief Operating Officer of HSE, and their colleagues. The meeting was also attended by Saša Arsenović, the Mayor of Maribor.

At the working meeting, Dravske elektrarne Maribor presented strategic and development projects of the company with the emphasis on:

  • The establishment of a data centre and a supercomputer at the location next to the DEM administrative building, which represents a foundation for the construction and provision of infrastructure and information services for organisations in the field of research, education and culture in Slovenia. The ministerial team met the company management a year and a half ago when they exchanged views on the possibilities of cooperation between Dravske elektrarne Maribor and research infrastructures involved in science digitalisation. At the time, the representatives of the ministries and Dravske elektrarne Maribor signed a Letter of Intent on the enhancement of cooperation with regard to transfer of knowledge and the search for synergy infrastructural effects between public and business sectors, resulting in the conclusion of a contract for the purchase of a 3,170-square-metre large land plot in the area next to the DEM administrative building in Maribor where a building intended for the data centre and the supercomputer will be constructed in the coming years.

The land plot in Maribor (at the location of the DEM administrative building) was chosen as the most suitable for the implementation of the planned activity. The location is already one of the important infrastructural sites. There, among other facilities, the management centre of Dravske elektrarne Maribor and the production management centre of the HSE Group can be found. It thus represents a crucial data and information hub of the HSE Group. The future data centre will have access to appropriate infrastructure connections, particularly the communication network. A significant volume of waste heat will be generated during the operations and subsequent upgrade of the data centre to accommodate the supercomputer. This excess will be utilised in the district heating system of Maribor.

The building in Maribor, the construction of which is expected to start next year and be completed in 2026, will be owned by the ARNES public infrastructure institution (owned by the Republic of Slovenia), which provides network services to organisations engaged in research, education and culture and their integration and mutual cooperation, as well as their cooperation with related organisations abroad. It is planned that the building will have two floors. The supercomputer for high-performance computing (HPC) of an external user will be installed on the ground floor, while the conventional data centre and a smaller supercomputer system will be installed on the first floor. The building is planned as an independent facility, in which the utmost proportion of energy needed will be generated at the facility. This will be attained in two ways, i.e. by means of self-sufficiency in electricity and thermal energy. The construction represents one step forward in the direction of the ARNES’ strategy, which as a public infrastructure institution builds, maintains and manages infrastructure that combines universities, institutes, research labs, museums, schools, databases and digital libraries. 

  • The presentation of the construction of the first pilot geothermal power plant, Čentiba, which constitutes an innovative approach to the exploitation of a deep geothermal system of electricity production, using a patented technology. At the beginning of April, the power plant generated the first kilowatt hours of electricity, revealing the principle to be functional. For ongoing future operations, modification of the turbine section of the equipment is necessary.
  • The start of construction of the 1 MW Mali Log wind farm, the first Slovenian wind farm to be constructed by a state-owned company. Work is expected to commence this month and the construction is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year. The location in Mali Log was selected on the basis of favourable wind conditions while observing all requirements necessary for obtaining the building permit.
  • The circular economy is exemplified in the processing of driftwood from the Drava River into wood chips (biomass) suitable to be used in medium and large combustion plants. The environmental consent and the environmental permit obtained will enable us in the future to process removed driftwood, considered waste at the Zlatoličje Hydro Power Plant, into biomass for use in medium and large combustion plants. For the relevant procedure, Dravske elektrarne Maribor obtained the international SURE certificate, which confirms compliance with the requirements of Directive (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (Renewable Energy Directive II).

In addition to the foregoing, other projects of Dravske elektrarne Maribor were also discussed at the working meeting:

  • Strategic project of national importance – the Kozjak pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant with a 2 x 220 MW capacity and overhead power line connections of 2 x 400 kV and the installation of battery electricity storage facilities.
  • Solar power plants on the embankments of the inflow and outflow canals of the Zlatoličje and Formin hydroelectric power plants with a total capacity of 27.2 MW and annual production of 34.8 GWh and solar power plants in other degraded areas.
  • Wind farms Ojstrica, Rogatec and Paški Kozjak, with a total capacity of up to 80 MW and annual production of 170 GWh.
  • Reconstruction of the Formin hydroelectric power plant, which will result in safe and reliable operations in the coming decades (the installed capacity will increase by 12.6% to 130.6 MW and the annual production will increase by 6% to 588.6 GWh), regular investment maintenance and investment in the reliability of operations in other hydroelectric facilities.
  • Renovation of the secondary systems in connection with which works on three electric power plants or a total of nine aggregates are being carried out intensively. These have operated for almost twenty years prior to the renovation and significantly affect operational availability. Two aggregates can be renovated per year with the full engagement of the employees and external contractors.
  • The sediment management strategy on the entire Slovenian section of the Drava River and other projects.

After the meeting, Prime Minister Dr Robert Golob said, “Dravske elektrarne Maribor is not only the energy jewel of Maribor, but is also becoming a jewel with regard to data and computer capacities. We talked substantially about energy at today’s meeting and I know that I don’t have to convince anyone about the fact that DEM employs top experts. We have also made a step forward and discussed the data centre and the supercomputer. I have to say that I am very satisfied with the synergies of the location for the development of computer and data sciences, not only in Maribor, but in the entire country. I am pleased to say that the ministries were successful in their discussions and obtained EUR 50 million from the European Commission. Another EUR 50 million will be added by the country, which will enable the construction of one of the most efficient supercomputers in Europe to connect with the data centre situated in the same building, thereby enabling the development of artificial intelligence and placement of the location on the global map.”

Mag. Damjan Seme, the Director General of Dravske elektrarne Maribor highlighted, “At today’s working meeting, we spoke about the further realisation of strategically important projects that are not only strategic for DEM and the HSE Group, but are vital for the electricity self-sufficiency of the country. As the largest producer of electricity from renewable sources, Dravske elektrarne Maribor thanks the Government and the line ministries for listening to our challenges and supporting us in the realisation of the projects necessary to attain the objectives derived from the National Energy and Climate Plan of the Republic of Slovenia. In doing so, we also spoke about the mission of Dravske elektrarne Maribor, which is also manifested in the fact that we find sustainable solutions in various ways and one of the keys is also the establishment of the data centre and the supercomputer at the high-tech DEM location, which was sold to the investor yesterday with a solemn signing of the contract.”