The first B2B solar power plant installed at Steklarna Hrastnik
The company is working with project partner RCeNeM to develop an innovative technology aimed at reducing its carbon footprint
HRASTNIK – The first B2B solar power plant goes online at Steklarna Hrastnik. As part of the partnership with Development Centre RC eNeM Ltd., the power plant was installed by GEN-I. Steklarna Hrastnik will use the generated electricity for the production of hydrogen. This sustainable investment will serve to pursue the company’s long-term vision of reducing environmental impacts and ensuring a responsible attitude towards the environment, employees, and the people living in the company’s surroundings.
The latest and energy-efficient methods, technological procedures, and solutions that reduce environmental impacts were therefore one of the essential strategic orientations in the decision of which technology would be employed in the production of glass at Hrastnik. “Last year, we began developing an innovative technology with our partner RCeNeM which aims to reduce the consumption of natural gas as an energy source for the melting of glass, which will in turn significantly reduce the CO2 footprint in the environment. The installation of the solar power plant is an important step towards the realisation of this technology,” emphasised Peter Čas, General Director of Steklarna Hrastnik.
The factory will thus substitute a portion of the fossil fuels with hydrogen, which generates minimum carbon emissions. Hydrogen will be produced with the help of the solar power plant, which was designed in conjunction with GEN-I. This will help reduce the carbon footprint on the pilot plant by an additional 10%. “We have already managed to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% at the Tableware unit, and by 10% at the Packaging unit. Such sustainable operations are in line with the strategy that is also pursued by our demanding customers in the premium and super premium segments which also expect the same from their partners. We can realise this goal only through constant investment into innovative technologies, which this solar power plant certainly is,” said Peter Čas about the environmental impact reduction strategy of Steklarna Hrastnik.
As their development is geared towards carbon-free energy which goes beyond the traditional competitive energy supply, GEN-I was the right partner for the installation of the solar power plant that worked closely with Steklarna Hrastnik to make the glassworks a leader in this field in Slovenia. “GEN-I wishes to facilitate an effective green transition and carbon footprint reduction to its partners, which is why it has developed numerous energy management services. Today, solar self-supply is a realistic and economically viable option for corporate energy consumers. Solar power plants are the first step that we can take in this direction. It is certainly an investment that each of us can afford, be it a single-family home, a multi-apartment building, or a commercial building. The installation of a solar power plant today means gaining access to one’s own energy source that has long-term financial benefits for us, the planet, and future generations,” emphasised the President of the Management Board of GEN-I, Dr. Robert Golob.
The installation of a solar power plant is part of the OPERH2 project which is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the EU from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The development of the mentioned innovative technology is in its pilot stage, whereby RCeNeM is currently constructing the hydrogen production plant. “It is a facility where electrolysis and the energy from the solar power plant will be used to generate high purity hydrogen that will then be used on a pilot glassmaking furnace to reduce the CO2 footprint. We are thus introducing biocomponents into the fuel used to melt glass,” said Tilen Sever, researcher at RCeNeM, about the joint project with Steklarna Hrastnik.
The pilot installation phase will presumably be completed in July of this year when the solar power plant is to be connected to the pilot plant. This will be followed by the experimental development phase aimed at the practical confirmation of the new glass melting solution employing hydrogen and the formulation of guidelines for the transfer of the technology to large glassmaking furnaces.
You can learn more about RCeNeM and the OPERH2 project at https://www.rc-enem.si/operh2/.