In-depth | Energjia

Energy from the wind in Bajgora

By , - 18.04.2023

In the former Yugoslavia, Mitrovica was one of the cities that contributed most to the economy due to the Trepça factory. Today, the situation is different. The ruins of the former battery factory, located at the first crossroads as you enter the city, darken the view of the city as you arrive from Prishtina. But 20 kilometers away in Shala e Bajgorës, 27 electricity-producing wind turbines seem to offer a response to the narrative of the city’s economic decline.

The road to the Selac Wind Farm passes through Stan Tërg, where minerals have been extracted from underground for centuries. The route that leads to Shala e Bajgorës does not prepare you for the beautiful view of the wind farm. The hilltops are occupied by long-armed turbines, which create electricity with the force of the wind.

To the right of the road to the wind farm, a large sign warns you to be careful and not approach the turbines, along with some other rules and prohibitions. These rules are often not respected by photography enthusiasts; many young couples from Mitrovica even choose to take their wedding photos here.

Once an undeveloped hill, today it is home to over two dozen wind turbines manufactured by General Electrics, which can generate 105 MW at full capacity. SOWI, a Kosovar-German-Israeli collaboration, completed the farm in December 2021. It stands as the largest renewable energy project in Kosovo, accounting for almost half of all renewable energy production. The project’s cost was around 170 million euros, 58 million of which were loans granted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Besart Buçinca, field manager at the Selac Wind Farm, climbs the stairs to the entrance of one of the 27 turbines.
Ilaz Kuleta, operator of the Selac substation shows the path that wind energy follows to enter the transmission system.

Besart Buçinca, field manager at the Selac Wind Farm, gives us a tour from the first to the 27th turbine. The height of each turbine is 178.5 meters and their foundation consists of 60 tons of steel and 1,000 cubic meters of concrete. Each of the turbines has three blades with a diameter of 19.8 meters that are attached to the turbine rotor that converts the movement into energy. The rotor has a diameter of 137 meters.

Each turbine is between 375 and 980 meters apart. They are connected to each other by large cables buried about a meter underground and which lead to the wind farm’s substation. With significant security alarms in place, the substation area is only accessible to authorized personnel. Ilaz Kuleta, the operator of the substation who knows every part, leads us there.

The computers inside are constantly being fed data. The power supply is backed up by a generator in standby mode — the monitoring system can’t stop for a moment.

From there, the overhead conductor cables of the 110 kV line go towards Vushtrri, 20 kilometers away. The line consists of 92 poles with a distance of 114 meters from each other. At the substation in Vushtrri, the electricity produced by wind is added into the KOSTT network, the Transmission and Market System Operator. 

The facility at Selac constitutes 10% of Kosovo’s energy generating capacity and saves 247,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The reduction of CO2 emissions is particularly important for Kosovo given that 78% of its capacity for electricity generation is in coal. The coal-powered Kosova A thermal power plant, one of Kosovo’s main sources of electricity, was meant to be shut down in 2017 partly because coal is a massive source of environmental pollution.

Due to the climate crisis and coal’s contribution as an energy source, efforts are being made around the world to switch to renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower.

According to reports from the Energy Regulatory Office, during the year 2022, 275,121Mwh were produced by the Selac Wind Farm, which constitutes 58.61% of all energy produced by renewable energy sources. In 2022 Selac produced 4.35% of all energy produced in Kosovo, 6,315 GWh.

Photos by Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.

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