Željko Đurić, General Manager of Tesla Wind: Creating a positive and sustainable contribution

We look forward to more collaboration and investments to work toward our common energy and climate change goals

For the special issue Serbia Goes Green, of Diplomacy&Commerce magazine, we spoke with Mr. Željko Đurić, General Manager of Tesla Wind about the project – The Čibuk 1 wind farm, Vetroelektrane Balkana (WEBG), cooperation of the UAE and Serbia, and future plans.

Čibuk 1 is the largest wind farm in the Western Balkans and Serbia. Could you tell us more about the project?

– The Čibuk 1 wind farm, with a capacity of 158-megawatts, is the largest utility-scale wind farm in Serbia. Spanning an area of 37 square kilometers, it is situated around 50 kilometers outside Belgrade in the municipality of Kovin. The wind farm comprises 57 wind turbines. It delivers enough electricity to power 113,000 homes and displaces more than 370,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Vetroelektrane Balkana (WEBG) is the project company that owns the Čibuk 1 wind farm, and WEBG is completely owned by Tesla Wind, a joint venture between Masdar, one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies (60%), Finnish energy infrastructure developer Taaleri Energia (30%), and DEG, the investment arm of KfW, the German government’s development bank (10%).

Besides helping to minimize the environmental impacts of Serbia’s power sector, Čibuk 1 created approximately 400 local jobs during construction, while also delivering 50 kilometers of new roads.

What challenges did you face in last year, given the pandemic?

– Our priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is our staff and ensuring their safety. At the beginning of the pandemic, we put in place the necessary business continuity management measures to ensure that we could protect our staff while continuing operations. We faced some slight delays in our maintenance schedule for the wind farm, however, these were minor, and we were able to continue providing electricity to the 113,000 homes powered by the wind farm.

How important is the cooperation between the UAE and Serbia and is there room for increasing investments in our country?

– The UAE and Serbia have a mutually beneficial relationship that is successfully advancing clean energy through the development of projects such as Čibuk 1. To enable further partnership, the UAE – Serbia Business Club was founded to connect the investors from both countries and to present them with business opportunities in these two markets. We look forward to more collaboration and investments to work toward our common energy and climate change goals.

For years, WEBG has been supporting activities on small projects, such as infrastructure repairs, improvement of educational and sports programs and support programs for vulnerable groups. How important is socially responsible business, especially in the segment in which you operate?

– Creating a positive and sustainable contribution to the local communities where we develop and invest in is a key component of our investment decision-making process. We target to deliver tangible and real positive impact in the local communities in the vicinity of our projects by supporting and contributing to the success of various local projects and participating in community-based CSR initiatives. For example and as part of the Čibuk 1 project, we committed a portion of the profits generated from the wind farm to the relevant Municipality to fund community-related infrastructure and social projects and initiatives.

Source: Diplomacy&Commerce