SENJ, Croatia, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Senj Wind Farm in Croatia, a project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has promoted local economic development and brought numerous job opportunities, Josip Tosic, manager of the local Toska Company, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.
More than 40 companies from across Croatia participated in the construction of the Senj Wind Farm. At one point, there were about 500 people on the site per day, and more than half of them were from Croatia, he said.
"It certainly encourages the development of Croatian companies, because working on the country's largest wind farm is a great reference and a great experience for everyone," Tosic said, adding that China's Norinco International, the main contractor of the farm, has focused on the engagement of as many local companies as possible and "I think they did a great thing for the project but also for the local people."
The wind farm, located on the Adriatic coast of western Croatia, was inaugurated in December 2021. It 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.
The farm has been hailed as a flagship project of the BRI, which envisions trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
According to Tosic, whose consulting company is still working at the Senj Wind Farm, the project has brought a lot of benefits to the local people, including the annual fees paid to the local community and government, the engagement of local companies and the employment of local people.
The farm also provides cheaper and stable energy supply for the locals, as the green electricity it produces each year is enough to satisfy the electricity demand of over 100,000 households in Croatia, Tosic noted.
"The local population will have a stable and clean source of energy, as well as various financial benefits from the operation of the wind farm," he said.
Tosic said he believed that the Chinese investments, such as the Senj Wind Farm, will greatly stimulate the growth of the economy in Croatia.
"I believe that Croatia, as part of the European Union (EU), has proved to be an excellent partner for Chinese investors. So new Chinese investments in Croatia are welcome," he said.
Tosic said he was impressed by the excellent cooperation between the Chinese and Croatian companies and people during the construction process and hailed the hard work of the Chinese team.
"Regardless of the language and cultural differences, the personal relationships and cooperation between Chinese and Croatian workers are excellent," he said, adding that he had to commend Norinco International's management for their "exceptional" efforts and understanding of the requirements of the project.
"Each country has its own specifics, but here the leading management and engineers of Norinco International have shown great knowledge, understanding and willingness to cooperate," he said.
While Croatia has excellent potentials for the construction of wind and solar power plants, China has superb technology and big companies that can make such investments, Tosic noted, adding that Croatia represents a great opportunity for Chinese companies to enter the very demanding EU market.
"Croatia can learn a lot from China in terms of the development and application of renewable energy technologies. In my opinion, the Senj Wind Farm is just the beginning of successful green cooperation between China and Croatia," he said. ■