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Multi-purpose Sava River development under consideration

Early-stage planning is under way for a multi-purpose hydropower programme on the Sava River in Croatia. 'Zagreb on the Sava' could provide 25% of the capital’s annual electricity consumption, while also providing flood defence control and improving navigability in the region.

Sava RiverOptions for the programme are currently being planned. The programme is likely to comprise a series of infrastructural upgrades and other measures for improved water management, and may include seven hydro facilities along the Sava River around Zagreb. It is intended to improve flood protection in the area from the Croatia–Slovenia border to Sisak, and replenish Zagreb’s underground reservoir aquifer. 

It may also release the potential for river cargo between Sisak and Velika Gorica. A strategic environmental and social impact study is now under way.

The programme is overseen by an inter-ministerial board of Croatian ministries and agencies, which has appointed Program Sava Ltd to develop the programme, a special purpose entity founded by the Croatian national electric power company Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP). Around 95% of the delivery is expected to be carried out by domestic companies.

Program Sava Ltd is planning to apply the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol throughout all stages of Sava Zagreb; in doing so it will become the first project to use the protocol for an early-stage assessment.

Protocol training

In March 2014, we delivered a training session with Program Sava Ltd and a range of its stakeholders in Zagreb to build knowledge on the protocol and how it can be used. This was possible through the support of the Hydro4Life project, which is promoting the protocol in the EU, financed by the EU Life+ programme.

Leo Penović, Sava Zagreb programme manager, said: “The training was very successful and interesting for us. Our first expectation was to find out what the protocol is, and what we can expect after implementation. The training described in detail what we can gain from the assessment procedure, what we have to prepare, and the benefits it can bring to our project.

The training described in detail what we can gain from the assessment procedure, what we have to prepare, and the benefits it can bring to our project." – Leo Penović, Sava Zagreb programme manager

“We are planning to carry out all four stages of the protocol through the lifecycle of the programme. The most important outcome of the training for us was on the last day – we planned the assessment for the early stage, which will follow in the first week of July.”

This early stage assessment will be provided through the support of the Hydro4Life project, financed by the EU Life+ programme.

Mr Penović explained that many diverse groups are involved in the development of Sava Zagreb. “It is going to be developed in a huge area from the Slovenian border to the city of Sisak, including the Croatian capital of Zagreb, so it deals with a lot of stakeholders,” he said. “We have the central government, regional government, companies which deal with national water agencies, NGOs and of course the public itself.”

He also stressed that sustainability is one of the principles upon which Sava Zagreb is being developed: “The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is very important because we believe that after the assessment procedure, we will know what we have to improve to reach world best practice in sustainability.”

You can read more about the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol at www.hydrosustainability.org, or about Hydro4Life at www.hydrosustainability.org/Hydro4Life.

Technical review
Country Republic of Croatia
Location Sava River
Project owner Croatian national and local governments, Croatian waters and HEP
Project cost EUR 1.5 billion (multi-purpose project cost)
Installed capacity 150 MW
Annual output 636 GWh