Steklarna Hrastnik reduces the carbon footprint
Green projects entail economic and local development in the municipality of Hrastnik
Following the EUR 26.2 million investment cycle completion this year, Steklarna Hrastnik envisages two new low-carbon projects relating to the glass furnaces in the next five years. This will enable Steklarna Hrastnik to replace the consumption of fossil fuels with green energy by one third, increase its energy efficiency by 10 percent, and reduce its CO2 footprint by one fifth by 2025. Moreover, the transition to low-carbon production will help to further develop the local environment in which Steklarna Hrastnik has been operating for 160 years.
Even now, Steklarna Hrastnik can pride itself on many successfully implemented innovative pilot projects. Under an innovative pilot project carried out this year, it was the first in the region to experimentally confirm the decarbonisation of glass melting with hydrogen obtained from renewable sources. Within this project, a combustion system which will enable Steklarna Hrastnik to make unlimited adjustments of hydrogen content in the fuel, has also been developed. This will enable optimisation of its production operation in terms of the availability of renewable resources. The investment in the new G furnace in the Vitrum unit, completed in November this year, makes it possible to implement this innovative hydrogen technology. The G furnace is based on the cleanest technology, and thus ensures lower energy consumption without causing additional environmental impacts upon increased glass production capacities. The investment in the G furnace is the core of this year’s 26.2 million investment cycle, which is the largest investment cycle for Steklarna Hrastnik in the last 10 years, and one of the largest in Slovenia this year.
To be followed by further new projects for the transition to low-carbon production
Currently, Steklarna Hrastnik is drawing attention to two projects in connection with glass furnaces renovation. It aims to carry out the transfer of hydrogen technology to industrial level in the following years. This project will be carried out on the G furnace in the Vitrum production unit. The B furnace in the Special production unit will be converted into a hybrid-regenerative furnace, which will use 60 percent of green electricity for its operation. Steklarna Hrastnik and its partners are already drawing up new plans and projects for a low-carbon future. “The next five-year period is strategically highly important for the long-term development of Steklarna Hrastnik. We know that our objectives are ambitious; however, we believe that the transition to a low-carbon company is in the best interests not only of the local community, but the state as well,” said Peter Čas, Director-General of Steklarna Hrastnik.
Igor Lah, CEO of GlobalGlass Holding, the owner of Steklarna Hrastnik, said the following about Steklarna Hrastnik’s future plans: “Today, Steklarna Hrastnik has a long-term vision, projects, plans, and innovations, which rank it among the largest manufacturers of high-quality packaging glass in the world. The transformation of the glassworks, the optimisation of production processes, and the ability to quickly respond to market needs, support its excellence in all business segments. I have complete confidence in the management strategy and the wider team of the glassworks, and I believe in the further long-term development and growth of the company, and the strengthening of its position among the best in the world.”
Aid from the state and the EU, and the support of the local environment remain essential
There is no doubt that projects undertaken at Steklarna Hrastnik are absolutely essential to achieving the EU’s environmental commitments by 2030, and consequently, creating highly qualified jobs for generations to come. The support of a key stakeholder, i.e. the state, is of utmost importance for the implementation of such projects.
“The Ministry responsible for the development of the Slovenian economy has never hesitated over whether to support the investment of Steklarna Hrastnik or not,” said Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology. According to the Minister, the investment is the necessary response to the challenges facing the company: it opens the way to higher-priced products and thus more demanding markets, enables healthy growth of the company, provides work to existing and new workers – which may not be ignored – and denotes a continuation of the centuries old glass making tradition in Slovenia. Finding the way to increase added value per employee and link development, environment, and people in a responsible way, remains a major challenge for the Slovenian economy. According to the Minister, the investment of Steklarna Hrastnik combines all these objectives.
Andrej Vizjak, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning emphasises that the establishment of a carbon-free society is not merely a commitment, but an opportunity to increase Slovenia’s competitiveness. The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning has made this a strategic objective within Slovenia’s long-term climate strategy until 2050. “The strategy follows the commitments of the Paris Agreement and the requirements of the European legislation. With this document, Slovenia aims to contribute to joint efforts to achieve climate neutrality at EU level, taking into account the situation in Slovenia,” said Minister Vizjak, noting that the offered challenges can only be realised upon prompt action by all sectors and ourselves.
Quality infrastructure, a successful economic environment, and new jobs with high added value, significantly contribute to the development of the region itself. A stable economic environment provides an opportunity for young people from the local environment, and an excellent incentive for the arrival of new, professional, qualified workers. “The Municipality of Hrastnik is incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to establish, together with Steklarna Hrastnik, a contemporary and green environment, sensitive to the concerns of people, as well as the economy and the environment in which we live. We are keen to cooperate with all stakeholders, including the state, in order to arrange modern road connections, ensure an even more competitive economy and conditions for the development of Zasavje that more closely resemble those of other regions in Slovenia,” said Marko Funkl, Mayor of Hrastnik.
Despite the burdensome, highly intensive industry, Steklarna Hrastnik has demonstrated that it is able to successfully coexist with the local community in the long-term, based on the right strategy, responsible behaviour towards the environment, the local community, and employees. Steklarna Hrastnik is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year; furthermore, it is entering a new decade with long-term plans for future growth and development.
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