Oil report

Croatia's HEP aims to sharply increase solar power production

ZAGREB, April 8 (Reuters) - Croatian state-owned power utility HEP said on Monday it had kicked-off a decade-long investment plan to add 350 megawatts (MW) of new solar capacity by 2030.

HEP’s CEO Frane Barbaric told a news conference that the company would invest 750 million kuna ($113.48 million) over the next five years, adding 20 MW of new solar capacity each year.

“Our target of 350 MW is seven times more than what we have in Croatia now,” he added.

HEP has taken over an existing solar plant in the northern Adriatic and will begin construction of three new plants in southern Croatia this year. The two projects will require a total investment of 80 million kuna and provide 11.6 MW of capacity.

From 2024 the pace of construction will increase to 40 MW of new solar capacity annually, the company said.

HEP is aiming to boost the proportion of renewable energy in its total capacity to 50 percent from the current 35 percent by 2030. Besides new solar plants, the drive includes wind farms, cogeneration plants and hydro-power plants.

Overall, HEP aims to invest around one billion kuna a year until 2030 to provide 1,500 MW of newly installed capacity.

It currently has around 4,500 MW of installed generation capacity and controls close to 90 percent of the local electricity market. HEP also operates in neighbouring EU member Slovenia.

Croatia, the European Union’s newest member, imports 30-40 percent of its annual electricity needs. ($1 = 6.6092 kuna) (Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)