Making Europe climate-neutral by 2050, developing the economy using green technology, creating a sustainable industry and transport, and reducing pollution- these are the main elements of the Green deal, currently the most important initiative of the European Union. We have thirty years before us during which we are supposed to decarbonize the energy sector, renovate old buildings to reduce costs and energy consumption and create the so-called „hydrogen valleys" as areas where factories and transport would be modernized and rural areas restored using hydrogen technology. Since only 12% of the materials used in the European industry are recycled, global leaders in different areas need to be encouraged to innovate for them to become global green economy leaders.
Renewable energy sources-the key to Green Deal
Near the end of September the European Commission established a new funding mechanism for the EU to support renewable energy projects, whose main goal is to enable closer cooperation between member states for them to achieve their individual and collective goals while making up for potential shortcomings. This should result in a more cost effective allocation of renewable energy sources throughout the European Union, in areas that are most suitable for a certain technology in the sense of geography and natural resource. Such a funding mechanism will make it easier for regions to start projects at a moment when their local economy is under pressure. The new funding mechanism makes it possible for member states to jointly benefit from renewable projects funded in other member states through tenders using this funding mechanism at the level of the entire EU.
Civil engineering at the center of the European green economy
Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources is an important way of mitigating climate change. At the height of current economic turmoil, since Europe, as well as the whole world is suffering the consequences of COVID-19 measures, it is important for the EU to put green economy and renewable energy sources at the heart of its recovery strategies. It is believed that investments in renewable energy sources are one of the prerequisites for obtaining economic aid that the EU will give to the member states. Investments funded by the EU is precisely what Croatia should turn to, since the greatest economic growth was recorded precisely in the yeas when strategically important projects were implemented, and there will always be funding available for such projects in the EU funds. The Pelješac Brigde is precisely one such project, strategically one of the most important projects in Croatia in recent years, and Institut IGH, which is in charge of supervision of works on the bridge, has many renewable energy and environmentally friendly projects under their belt.
Given the goals of the European green deal, civil engineering is surely one of the industries that will be at the heart of its implementation. For Croatian civil engineering companies, this doesn't mean just „green projects" in Croatia, but it also opens up markets throughout Europe to them.
„Turning to investments in renewable energy sources such as the wind, sun, water, energy efficiency or biomass is no longer a wish list, but we already have tangible plans and secured funding to implement such projects. Let's take the reconstruction of Zagreb after the earthquake as an example. Other than reconstructing the historical town core, which suffered the most damage, by making it more resistant to similar future events, this new direction the EU is taking, enables these buildings to be made more efficient energy wise, at the same time, which would be Croatia's significant contribution to the EU green deal.", said Robert Petrosian, president of Institut IGH's Management Board and added that, other than through their usual services such as design, supervision, research and laboratory services, IGH sees its role in the reconstruction of Zagreb through actual construction works which is why they engaged their daughter company, Marterra d.o.o.
As one of the leading engineering companies in this part of Europe, Institut IGH is already taking part in a series of green projects. This mostly refers to projects in the energy sector such as constructions of wind and hydroelectric power plants.
„ Even though we may be perceived as a traditional engineering company with experience working on large, traditional infrastructure projects, in recent years we have increasingly been involved in renewable energy projects in Croatia and within the region, projects which are slowly becoming strategically important infrastructural projects in many countries. With that in mind, we want to transfer our knowledge and experience to other markets, primarily those of Western Europe. For example, for many years, we have been a partner to General Electric Wind Energy, a German company for which we have lately completed several technical due diligence projects related to regulations of countries such as Finland, Lithuania and Afghanistan where they plan to start building wind power plants. We are also currently working on the construction of their wind farm Selacë in Kosovo., said Petrosian.
The new strategic direction of Institut IGH
Large civil engineering projects will continue to be the Institute's trademark in the years to come and will represent a significant contribution to the company's future work. But, the new decade brings forth a new strategic direction in broadening the scope of services, new sectors and new markets. The already achieved involvement in wind farm projects in Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia such as: the Krnovo, Kitka, Danilo, Ogorje, Lukovac, Kovačica,Katuni, Jasenice and many other power plants where our engineers supervised construction, ensured quality of service and consulted clients, provided us with a good background for other larger projects of this kind and enabled us to reach other markets.
Also, IGH takes part in all levels of study and design development for hydropower systems and multipurpose systems with a hydropower component. As leading consortium partner, Institut IGH took part in the development of the implementation project for the ultimate hydropower building constructed in Croatia, the Lešće HEPP on the Dobra River, completed in 2010, and a contract for the construction of the Senj 2 HEPP has been signed, under which Institut IGH's experts will implement all soil mechanics investigation works on the project.
In recent years, the company is taking part, or has taken part in the development of feasibility studies, design documents and construction supervision of many agglomerations including Zagreb, Virovitica, Križevci, Donji Miholjac and Pitomača, Cres-Lošinj, Novi Vinodolski, Split-Solin, the Plitvice Lakes, Preko and Kali, Otočac, Jastrebarsko, Nin, Zadar. The thing that all these projects have in common is finding and developing optimal water management solutions to use and protect waters as one of the most significant resources we have.