Wind Power

11 May 2024

Irish Developer Eyeing 500 MW Offshore Wind Project in Croatia's Istria County

11 May 2024  by offshorewind   
Western Power, an Ireland- and UK-based wind energy developer, is studying potential offshore wind areas in Croatia’s sector of the Adriatic Sea. Subject to plans taking off, as this is currently at an early stage, the company could develop a 500 MW offshore wind project off the coast of the country’s Istria County.

Western Power has appointed Danish company Naver Energy, part of the British Venterra Group, to perform the work on assessing the feasibility of developing an offshore wind farm and related industrial opportunities in Croatia.

This Could Become Largest One-Time Investment in Infrastructure Project in Croatia

Potential sites, each with an estimated capacity of 500 MW, have already been identified. A final site location will be selected soon, after consultation with key stakeholders, including the Croatian authorities.

Once the final site has been chosen, Western Power intends to commence environmental and site surveys which will include surveys of bird and marine mammals present within and near the site.

Naver Energy’s Business Development Director told that with a potential CAPEX of up to EUR 2 billion, this could become the largest single investment in an infrastructure project in modern Croatian history.

“With an anticipated construction budget for the wind farm of up to 2 billion EUR, this initiative is poised to be the largest one-time investment for an infrastructure project ever undertaken in modern Croatian history, with the potential to directly benefit numerous Croatian companies and provide a foundation for a new Croatian industry – and a renaissance for existing industries,” Siniša Lozo, Business Development Director at Naver Energy / Venterra Advisory, said.

“In line with this, we, in partnership with colleagues from the University of Zagreb, are planning to organize consultations with all key stakeholders, including those from the fishing and tourism sectors, environmental groups, and more. We are committed to developing this project with their input and with open communication.”

The Danish company pointed out that it has sought to engage local businesses as much as possible in the feasibility assessment work. As part of its engagement with Western Power, Naver Energy / Venterra Advisory has been collaborating with Croatian companies such as Anemos Engineering, with the work supported by the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (FSB).

Growing List of European Countries Tapping Into Offshore Wind Opportunities

If the plans for the project offshore Istria, and those behind other investigations of offshore wind potential in the country, pan out, Croatia could soon join the growing number of European countries developing their offshore wind economy or on their path to doing so. The country has already contributed to the industry but this has been mainly through its shipbuilding capabilities.

According to the European wind energy industry organisation, WindEurope, Europe had 34 GW of installed offshore wind capacity in 2023, 19 GW of which has been installed in the EU member states. Last year, Europe also saw a record 4.2 GW of new capacity connected to the grid.

There was also a major increase in offshore wind investments in new projects in 2023, with final investment decisions (FIDs) reached for 9 GW of new offshore wind projects, amounting to EUR 30 billion.

While the North Sea countries have been building offshore wind farms for more than 20 years and the Mediterranean states have ramped up work over the past several years, not all seabound European countries have joined the race early.

However, this could come as an advantage for the new European offshore wind markets such as Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, similar to the one the US has, as the European supply chain and technological capabilities have long passed the learning curve peak and are now sought after on projects worldwide.

Image for illustrative purpose only; Source: the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO), “Sea-Basin ONDP Report Mediterranean East and Black Sea – South and East Offshore Grids”, 2024

The economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind for Croatia have also been emphasised by Professors Neven Duić and Hrvoje Mikulčić from the Department of Energy, Power Engineering and Environment at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture.

“To date, there have been exactly 60 companies identified that stand to gain directly from the introduction of offshore wind to Croatia, providing not only employment opportunities but also well-paid jobs due to the demand for specialized skills, which Croatia possesses. Contrary to the limited construction period typical of many infrastructure endeavors, offshore wind projects promise sustained job opportunities in operations and maintenance, offering stable employment to local communities for decades,” Prof. Hrvoje Mikulčić said.

According to data by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) from 2021, Croatia has an estimated technical potential for 17 GW of offshore wind capacity within 200 kilometres of the shoreline. This includes 4 GW of fixed-bottom and 13 GW of floating wind capacity.

Prof. Neven Duić added: “[These] projects necessitate substantial investments in equipment, infrastructure, and ongoing maintenance, injecting capital that can drive economic expansion in coastal areas and further. With the natural advantage of more consistent winds at sea, countries tapping into offshore wind resources can produce a larger portion of their electricity independently, decreasing their dependency on imported fossil fuels. This shift not only bolsters energy security but also shields economies from the variations of global energy markets.”

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