The first B2B solar power plant in Slovenia has been operationalized at Steklarna Hrastnik. GEN-I set-up the power plant in the scope of its partnership with Razvojni center Novi materiali (RCeNeM). Steklarna Hrastnik will use the electricity generated in the production of hydrogen. Through this sustainable investment, the glass factory is pursuing its long-term vision to reduce its impacts on the environment, and is demonstrating its responsibility to the environment, its employees and the people who live in the surrounding area.
Figure 1: (from left to right: Robert Golob, Ph.D. and Peter Čas)
The newest energy efficient methods, technological processes and solutions to reduce environmental impacts therefore represent one of the company’s key strategic guidelines in deciding what technology will be used in the manufacture of glass in Hrastnik. “We began developing an innovative technology last year with our partners from RCeNeM, with the aim of reducing the consumption of natural gas as an energy source in the glass smelting process, and thus reducing our carbon footprint significantly. The set-up of the solar power plant is an important step in the implementation of that technology,” emphasized Peter Čas, the General Director of Steklarna Hrastnik.
A portion of fossil fuels used in the factory will be replaced by hydrogen, which releases minimal carbon emissions. That energy source will be provided by the solar power plant, which was designed together with GEN-I. With the latter’s help, the factory will reduce its carbon footprint on a pilot device by an additional 10%. “With the help of innovative solutions and the latest technology, we have already reduced CO2 emissions by 30% in the glass tableware unit and by 10% in the glass packaging unit. Such sustainable operations represent a strategy that is also followed by our most demanding customers from the premium and super premium segments, who demand the same from their business partners. We can only keep pace with their demands through continuous investments in innovative technologies, and the solar power plant we’ve spoken of is one such project,” commented Peter Čas about Steklarna Hrastnik’s strategy to reduce environmental impacts.
Because its development focuses on low-carbon energy sources that go beyond the competitive supply of energy, the best partner for the setting-up of the solar power plant was GEN-I. In cooperation with the latter, Steklarna Hrastnik achieved a first in Slovenia. “GEN-I’s aim is to offer its business partners the opportunity to make an effective green transformation and reduce their carbon footprint. It has therefore developed numerous energy management services. Today, the self-supply of energy from the sun is a realistic and economically justified choice for business customers. Solar power plants represent the first step we can make in that direction. This is no doubt an investment that every one of us can afford to make, be it in a stand-alone house, multi-dwelling residential building or commercial building. Today, setting-up a solar power plant means gaining access to one’s own source of energy. Over the long term, it also means a positive financial effect for us, for our planet and for the generations that follow,” emphasized the President of GEN-I’s Management Board, Robert Golob, Ph.D.
The setting-up of the solar power plant is part of the OPERH2 project, which is being co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union, from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The development of this innovative technology is in the pilot phase, in the scope of which RCeNeM is currently setting-up a hydrogen production plant. “At the facility in question, we will produce extremely pure hydrogen through electrolysis and the use of energy from the solar power plant. That hydrogen will then be used in a pilot glass furnace with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint. We are thus introducing the use of a biocomponent in the fuel used in glass smelting,” stated Tilen Sever, a researcher at RCeNeM, about the joint project with Steklarna Hrastnik.
The pilot set-up phase is expected to be completed in July this year, when the solar power plant will be connected to the pilot device. This will be followed by an experimental development phase, the objectives of which are the practical confirmation of the new technological solution for glass smelting through the co-use of hydrogen, and the drafting of guidelines for the transfer of the technology to large glass furnaces.
Figure 2: (from left to right: Gregor Hudohmet, Robert Golob, Ph.D., Peter Čas and Tilen Sever)
For more about RCeNeM and the OPERH2 project, click on this link.