Croatia’s national power company HEP Group has launched a tender for design and feasibility studies for an electrolyser and solar power plant at the site of its Plomin 2 coal-fired power plant, due to be decommissioned in 2035.

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The 210MW Plomin 2 facility is the last coal plant left operating in Croatia, which is run on imported coal at extremely high cost, due to dwindling reserves within the country.

And in 2021, the nation’s prime minister Andrej Plenkovic pledged at COP26 to phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2033, although documents from HEP indicate that the plant will not be fully decommissioned until 2035.

As such, HEP is considering the construction of an electrolyser at the site of the power plant, with the H2 combusted for the facility’s existing boilers, blended into the gas network up to 10%, or compressed for use in fuel cells.

However, while the state-owned power company has listed off in its tender documents specifications of the site that the electrolyser would have to be designed around — such as available water, an existing 220/110 kV connection to the grid, and a landfill that could site H2 storage systems — an actual size estimate is yet to be determined.

In contrast, HEP has also set out a three-phase 16MW solar plant development, with an initial 2MW of capacity, which it noted could be used to either power the electrolyser and other on-site demand, or supply electricity to the grid.

This could mean that any electrolyser would have to be either small enough to be run wholly off the solar array, or necessitate the purchase of green power from elsewhere.

And given hydrogen is described in the tender documents as potentially being used in “co-combustion”, this could hint at plans to convert the site to gas-fired power generation rather than fully banking on H2 conversion.

While the Croatian government published a national hydrogen strategy in 2022, suggesting H2 could be used in the power sector as well as to decarbonise transport and industry, no targets were set on either production or use.