The Senj Wind Farm, a project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is an example of the mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation between Croatia and China, said Luci Veljacic, manager of the Grupa Company in southern Croatia, in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"For me and my company it was a great honor to be part of the Senj Wind Farm project," Veljacic said, adding that in July 2019, the Grupa Company was offered a contract for supervision and implementation of safety and health protection, fire protection and environmental protection during construction of the Senj Wind Farm project.
Despite numerous unfavourable conditions, including the extremely complex mountainous terrains, the COVID-19 pandemic, snow, strong winds and thunderstorms during the construction process, the Senj Wind Farm, undertaken by China's Norinco International Cooperation Ltd. (Norinco International), was completed on schedule and "without any worker injuries, deaths or incidents," Veljacic noted.
"During the construction, all legal regulations of Croatia and the European Union (EU) and all safety measures were observed to the maximum," Veljacic said.
The Grupa Company is one of the more than 70 contractors from across Croatia participating in the construction, and among the daily turnover of about 300 workers during the construction, more than half of them were from Croatia, Veljacic said, adding that most Croatian workers were from the local Lika-Senj County.
Moreover, participation in the project has made many Croatian companies gain extensive professional experience, which will certainly make them more competitive in the EU market, not just in Croatia, Veljacic said.
Veljacic hailed the "exceptional" cooperation with the Chinese side during the construction process.
"We had an exceptional cooperation, both professional and friendly, with all Chinese companies and workers at the Senj Wind Farm project," Veljacic said, noting that in spite of the language barrier, "we successfully communicated, negotiated, solved daily problems and performed work safely."
In addition, "We also found time to socialize during the project, getting to know the cultures of the two countries ... we talked about history, music, education, customs and the like," Veljacic added.
Veljacic was deeply impressed by the hard work and expertise of the Chinese workers during the construction process.
"During this project, Chinese workers performed the most demanding work and showed exceptional expertise, professionalism, endurance and technological progress," she said, adding that she and her company colleagues also received a lot of help from Chinese engineers who "were always ready to help with their professional knowledge and experience."
The Senj Wind Farm, located on the Adriatic coast of western Croatia and inaugurated in December 2021, produces about 530 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green electricity each year and reduces Croatia's carbon dioxide emissions by about 460,000 tonnes per year.
In the eyes of Veljacic, the Senj Wind Farm is a project valuable and important not only for the Lika-Senj County but also for the whole Croatia, as it can significantly contribute to the total annual production of electricity from clean and renewable sources, reduce electricity imports and further promote low-carbon development.
"With this project, Norinco International has become one of the largest investors in green energy and the green economy in Croatia ... The example of the Senj Wind Farm project, the joint successful cooperation of Chinese and Croatian workers and companies will certainly be further developed," Veljacic said.