Veljko Ožegović, as Deputy CEO of New Energy Solutions, is a representative of that company as a regular member of the Association Renewable Energy Sources of Serbia. This young electrical engineer is one of the most promising managers in the region, and RES Serbia has high expectations of him in his contribution to the Engineering Forum and the RES Young Leaders Group. He has already proven himself in international circles as a speaker at a webinar we organized with the Spanish Embassy in Belgrade at the end of last year.
New Energy Solutions marks 10 years of existence this year. From a group of individuals, you have become a serious development, consulting and service company. What marked the first decade of New Energy Solutions and what is the secret of your success?
Team agility with diligent work and absolute dedication are definitely key characteristics that have led us to evolve from a small group of quality individuals into a company with a recognized pedigree and proven achievements over the past decade, all with clearly visible potential for further growth and achieving ever-increasing goals.
New Energy Solutions was formed with the goal of developing the Kovačica wind farm, but it soon turned out that you were ready for much more than that?
That’s right. We started as a small team formed to present the development of the Kovačica wind farm project. The quality was soon recognized and we were given the opportunity to provide our services to various clients. As the market for renewable energy projects matured and our capacity to structure and manage capital investments grew, a vision was generated and NES’s organism was ready to grow.
After the development of the Kovačica wind farm, the development of the Pupin wind farm followed? What can you tell us about that project?
The Pupin wind farm project followed as a natural continuation of the successful cooperation with the client, the owner of the Kovačica wind farm. The project is designed as a new stage, the expansion of the realized Kovačica wind farm, through the installation of new 95.5 MW capacity. Among the projects within our development portfolio, the Pupin wind farm project stands out as the most mature. It is currently in the final phase of development, in the process of forming a financial structure and preparing for the construction phase. The estimated value of this investment is around € 100 million.
When is the construction of that wind farm expected and what do these two wind farms mean for the local self-government, for the energy system of Serbia, for your investor and for New Energy Solutions?
With the realization of the Kovačica wind farm project, the largest investment in the municipality of Kovačica was realized, with a value of € 189 million. In addition to the direct financial benefits for the municipality, the numerous peripheral benefits that the local community has from this project have further contributed to strengthening the very positive general impression of it, such as the construction of a 40km public road network within the wind farm, which improved the traffic of agricultural machinery of the local population. Our house has been a proven partner in this municipality for a whole decade and is fully accepted by the local community. Accordingly, the Pupin wind farm project is viewed with a positive feeling as a new large-scale upcoming investment. From the aspect of project development, in the second half of this year we plan to bring the project to the level of readiness for construction, while closing the financial structure of the project and the beginning of construction will depend on completing the legislative framework, the content of bylaws, with all defined maximum purchase price of electricity set for auction. Although this maximum price is defined rather low due to incomplete reflection of all relevant factors such as inflation, balancing costs, market disruption with rising prices of raw materials and equipment, etc. As a result, only after all the necessary parameters are known, the consideration of the cost-effectiveness of the project will be completed, and then we will decide on the occasion of the beginning of the project implementation.
In addition to development, you are also involved in the maintenance and management of wind farms? Can you tell us more about that?
Our specialized team within the power plant management sector is currently performing the management and maintenance of the two largest wind farms in Serbia, the Čibuk 1 wind farm and the Kovačica wind farm. Considering the fact that these two power plants, with a total investment of almost half a billion euros, make up approximately two thirds of the total installed capacity in the wind of the Serbian power system, I believe that the level of expertise our company has built in this area can be seen.
What other services does New Energy Solutions provide? Why do leading foreign investors turn to you for service?
Bringing together leading experts from various fields with rich local and international knowledge and experience, NES through gradual but organic growth has grown into a company capable of covering the entire life cycle of renewable energy projects, performing a full range of all activities within the phase development (from the initiation of the project idea to the full completion of the development and introduction of the project in the status of readiness for construction), then after the project enters the construction phase NES’s special sector performs management of RES power plant construction operation, as we touched on in the previous answer, NES manages and maintains RES power plants. Confirmation of the extremely professional and high quality level of performing these tasks comes from the fact that we have established a long-term partnership with our clients, who are leading players in this world-renowned field, all based on successful cooperation based on principles that NES proudly adheres to, namely integrity, commitment and responsibility.
Are you interested in solar energy production and are you working on projects in that area?
Absolutely. Although there are still no large utility-scale solar power plants on our market, bearing in mind that in addition to the mature industry, the necessary legal conditions are being met from the aspect of defining regulations, the entire sector is preparing for the expansion of solar power plant projects. On the other hand, as the construction of large solar power plants requires the occupation of a huge area, the challenge is to find a favorable location for a power plant of this type, without it being higher quality land for agricultural purposes. NES chooses the location of the approach while respecting the principle of preserving the basic purpose of quality agricultural land, which is agriculture. Accordingly, we plan the development of solar power plants in locations more suitable for that purpose. All in all, taking into account market circumstances, today NES certainly sees a chance to contribute to the development of solar capacities and increase the share and diversity of renewable energy sources in our electricity system.
Given that the last decade has been marked by the evolution of the NES, what can be expected in the next?