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Power station Vojany could be revamped

Ambitious project looks to turn coal-fired station to green technology park.

The power plant in Vojany.(Source: Sme)

Loss-making coal-fired power station Vojany has drawn focus from a US company that would like to turn it into a producer of clean energy and launch a green technology park on its premises. While it has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Economy and Finance ministries, doubts about feasibility of the plans as well as personal backgrounds of the company have emerged. 

The then economy minister Vazil Hudák and Finance Minister Peter Kažimír signed a memorandum of understanding with the American investor Theta Energy Group (TEG) represented by Peter Zimeri, Sean McCarthy and Igor Hantuch at Vojany thermal power plant (EVO) in Košice Region just few days before the March 5 parliamentary election. The company plans to invest, modernise, develop and create local sources of sustainable and safe energy supplies in the form of electricity and heating via innovative and intelligent technologies and build here a technology park. It is prepared to invest here between $600 and $800 million and create 800 jobs.

“Their vision is to transform EVO into a power plant that will produce clean energy,” said Kažimír as cited by the TASR newswire.

The memorandum is divided into two parts while one of them pertains to modernisation of EVO and the second to development of an energy innovation centre and a technology park.

“The project is divided into the energy part and refit of its two technologies of about €225 million and the industrial park where five US companies along with us plan an investment totalling €486 million,” Hantuch told the SITA newswire.

While production of electricity should be preserved in Vojany it should not be its core business any more.

“Production of electricity is not, contrary to technologies, the core business for us,” said Hantuch, adding that for the park it is necessary to keep the current electricity production.

The five US companies in the technology park should be active in nano technologies, like NanoLight and printed light, printed batteries and nano solar, according to Venergetike.sk.

The Finance Ministry and the Economy Ministry agreed to provide full cooperation and support in fulfilling both investment aims and a suitable time schedule to create a working group comprised of representatives of the government, TEG and the dominant energy producer Slovenské Elektrárne (SE).

The memorandum is a framework document for upcoming negotiations, while the US company has not asked for a state aid yet. At the time of signing the memorandum Hudák estimated that if negotiations proceeded well, the investment agreement might be signed within a few months.

“Representatives of the investor have planned session with representatives of the Office for the Regulation of Network Industries, Enel, SE and various other institutions that are parts of the mosaic that needs to be laid down also in order for an institutional framework for this investment to be created,” said Hudák.

The Vojany power plant is operated by SE, in which the state holds 34 percent. The Italian energy group Enel is selling the remaining 66-percent stake to the Czech company Energetický a Průmyslový holding’s (EPH) in two phases while the first one is underway now.

The power station in Vojany is loss making and dozens of its employees were laid off to make its operation more economical. The US company says it plans to keep the current more than 140 employees at the power station.

SE is prepared to analyse the plan.

“In spite of a significantly unfavourable development on the market, the decrease of the price of electricity and burdening produced electricity by other fees, SE continues to search for sustainable solutions for operation of Vojany,” SE spokeswoman Jana Burdova said, as cited by TASR. SE invested €50 million into modernisation of Vojany that now co-fires biomass. 

Doubts about the project

TEG wants to use more sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy in Vojany. As it informs on its website, with available highly efficient and sustainable technologies it is possible to retrofit the plant’s operations so they can accept hybrid fuel sources. The plant will use a blend of four different commodities to generate energy.

The Trend weekly specified that the technology to be used is waste gasification but it does not see operation of the technology without state subsidies as realistic. It puts as an example two plants for waste gasification in the United Kingdom, of which one has received two subsidies from public sources and the British government supported the second one with a contract for electricity supply for 20 years.

The weekly also indicates that Spanish media links a person with the identical name of Peter Zimeri with a Guatemalan drug gang. Hantuch has denied the accusations.

Topic: Energy


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