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Plomin coal power plant, Croatia

Photo by Zelena Akcija

Success! After five years of campaigning, plans for Plomin C have been dropped.

On June 13, the Croatian Minister for Economy, Tomislav Panenić, confirmed that the 500 MW Plomin C coal plant project has been stopped.

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Project background

The Croatian electricity company HEP is planning to construct a new 500 MW unit at the Plomin power plant on the Istrian coast. The project, entitled “Plomin C” is being presented as a reconstruction of the Plomin 1 unit, even though it is nothing of the kind, having four times greater capacity than Plomin 1's 120 MW.

Illegal state aid?

HEP plans to sign a long-term power purchase agreement with Marubeni, the preferred bidder, to buy at least 50 percent of the electricity from the new plant for a period of at least 20 years. However, given their potential impacts on the electricity market, such agreements are often in conflict with EU legislation on state aid.

Local opposition and legal framework

Local people from the town of Labin, which bears the brunt of the existing plant's pollution, and much of the rest of Istria, oppose the construction of the new plant. Istria as a region is quite distinct from the rest of Croatia and the coal plant is seen as being imposed by politicians from Zagreb who are happy to dump pollution on regions far away from the capital.

Istria's spatial plan explicitly stipulates that any new plant at the site must run on gas and that the total capacity of the power plant cannot exceed 335 MW (including Plomin 2). Plomin C alone is therefore four times larger than is allowed for any new plant at the site.


Apart from the legal and public opposition, Plomin C is a misguided energy project for the following reasons:

Considering that Croatia doesn’t have its own sources of coal, Plomin C would reduce imports of electric energy, but at the same time increase imports of coal, resulting in the continuation of Croatia's dependence on imported energy.

Dependence on imported coal

HEP and Croatia's Minister of Economy argue that the plant will decrease dependence on imported electricity but instead it will just increase Croatia's dependence on imported coal, as the country has exhausted its own coal resources.

In 2013, Croatia imported 36.1 PJ of coal and coke and 24.64 PJ of electric energy. [Source (pdf)] Considering that Croatia doesn’t have its own sources of coal, if Plomin C is constructed, it is clear that imports of electric energy would be reduced, but imports of coal would increase, resulting in the continuation of Croatia's dependence on imported energy.

Carbon budget

This one coal power plant alone will also swallow up a significant portion, if not most of the country's carbon budget by 2050: According to EU goals Croatia's entire emissions will be limited to somewhere between 1.566 and 6.264 million tonnes CO2 equivalents (CO2eq) annually, but Plomin C by itself would emit 2.644 million tonnes CO2eq.

That leaves hardly any room for other sectors like transport and industry to emit CO2, even though they are projected to be much harder to decarbonise than the energy sector.


Local expert prof.dr.sc Enco Tireli - who worked at the Croatian state electricity company HEP for more than 15 years and was construction manager for Plomin 2 - has found that the plant is unlikely to be profitable mainly due to the need to pay for CO2 emissions as part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. (Download his calculations as pdf.)

However, this has not deterred the Croatian government, which is desperately looking to the Plomin project to stimulate the country's troubled economy, even though it may end up doing just the opposite. Media reports indicate it may be prepared to go to extreme lengths to do this, with the proposed electricity prices for the planned long-term power purchase agreement at between EUR 70 and 100 per MWh, compared to current prices of around EUR 40/MWh (August 2015).

Poor record of the companies involved

In September 2014 Marubeni was chosen as preferred bidder, with Alstom as the main contractor and equipment supplier. Both companies have an unenviable record of corruption offences.

A 2014 analysis (pdf) by Bankwatch found that Marubeni had been found to have been involved in two major corruption cases within three years, for which it had to pay penalties of USD 88 million and USD 54.6 million. As a result the company was debarred from receiving loans from the Japan International Co-operation Agency for nine months starting from March 2014.

Alstom and/or its staff had been found guilty of corruption offences in relation to at least seven cases in seven years across different continents, and is under investigation for several more, including around the Sostanj 6 lignite power plant in Slovenia. Alstom has been under observation by the Norwegian Finance Ministry since 2011 after its Council on Ethics recommended in 2010 to exclude Alstom SA from the Government Pension Fund Global.

For more information contact Bernard Ivcic at Zelena akcija or Bankwatch's Research Co-ordinator Pippa Gallop


Latest developments


Bankwatch in the media | June 15, 2016

Nakon 5 godina kampanje protiv izgradnje štetne termoelektrane na uvozni ugljen Plomin C, ostvarili smo veliku pobjedu! Ministar gospodarstva Panenić izjavio je kako je realizacija ovog projekta zaustavljena. Sigurni smo kako nakon uvjerljivih argumenata protiv izgradnje te okolnosti koje su uslijedile, Vlada nije niti imala drugog izbora nego zaustaviti Plomin C, kažu u priopćenju Greenpeace, Zelena Istra, Zelena akcija i CCE – Bankwatch network.

Press release | June 14, 2016

The Croatian Minister for Economy, Tomislav Panenić, yesterday confirmed that the 500 MW Plomin C coal plant project has been stopped.

Blog entry | March 3, 2016

Responding to the lack of official economic data for Croatia's Plomin C coal project, a new analysis finds that the project is highly risky.

Blog entry | February 22, 2016

Last Tuesday activists from Croatia, Italy and Colombia formed a human chain in front of the Plomin coal power plant to highlight that the real price of coal is human lives – at both ends of the chain of production.

Balkans, coal, Plomin C
Bankwatch in the media | November 20, 2015


Balkans, OECD, Plomin C


Briefing | November 14, 2016

Coal is the single biggest contributor to global climate change. But governments and investors planning new coal capacities have a range of flimsy arguments why coal would be the best or the only alternative. This briefing busts a number of myths surrounding coal, such as "coal is cheap", "alleviates poverty" or "coal is clean".

Study | September 10, 2015

The analysis, by Friends of the Earth France and Croatia, Zelena Istra, CEE Bankwatch Network and BankTrack, screens the risks of the 500 megawatt Plomin C coal power plant project proposed for development in the picturesque Istrian peninsula in Croatia, a popular international tourist destination. It concludes that French bank Crédit Agricole's support for the project is inconsistent with the bank's climate ambitions and its own sector policy on coal-fired power plants. according to a new study released today.

Briefing | October 2, 2014

The consortium that has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the controversial Plomin C 500 MW coal power plant project in Croatia consists of the two companies Marubeni and Alstom. Both have been involved in corruption scandals recently that led to sanctions from financing institutions. This briefing offers details on these cases.

Bankwatch Mail | May 14, 2014

Last year saw international financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank falling like dominoes one after the other and announcing in rapid succession that they will halt – almost totally – financing for new coal power plants. These banks were also joined by other institutions such as the US Exim Bank and the Nordic Investment Bank, and governments including the US, UK, Netherlands and Scandinavian countries.

Briefing | May 5, 2014

This legal analysis argues that the tender arrangement for the Plomin C coal-fired power plant seriously questions the feasibility of the entire investment, not just from an environmental point of view as demonstrated by Zelena Akcija beforehand, but by now also from a competition point of view.