Premiere of the documentary

31 Maj, 2019
Premiere of the documentary

On Thursday 30 May 2019, Brežice Youth Centre hosted a panel discussion on climate change and its challenges, followed by a premiere of a documentary on the construction of the chain of hydroelectric power plants on the lower course of the Sava River.

The documentary premiered just days before the Sava River Day, commemorated annually on 1 June by the four countries through which the Sava winds its way: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. The Sava effectively drives the development of economic activity and fosters interregional connections between nations, helping to improve the conditions of water bodies and, above all, the quality of living for the people, particularly those living by the river.

Climate change and the Lower Sava River project

Around the world, Slovenia included, climate change and how to respond to it presents increasingly big challenges for the 21st century. To help preserve our planet, dramatic shifts will need to be made both at the national level and the level of individual businesses, sectors, regions and local environments. The Posavje region is slightly ahead of its time in this respect, having launched at the beginning of the 21st century a multipurpose project to build a chain of hydroelectric power plants on the lower course of the Sava, which is increasingly proving to be the right answer to climate change.

Leading up to the premiere of the documentary, the panel discussion addressed the topic of the lower course of the Sava and the increasingly acute issue of climate change and our response to it in the form of the cleanest renewable energy sources – hydro, solar and wind. The discussion featured several participants, all involved in the construction of the chain of HPPs on the lower course of the Sava in their own way: Mr Robert Golob, DSc, President of the GEN-I Management Board; Mr Vojko Sotošek, MSc, Infra Director; Ms Vesna Kolar Planinšič, MSc, Head of the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment Sector at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning; Mr Sandi Kosmač, President of the Sevnica Fishing Club; and Mr Bogdan Barbič, HESS Director. In projects as big as this, situations that hamper the project's further progress tend to arise, and the panel discussion participants, each in their own way, helped move the project forward in crucial moments.

Project serving multiple purposes

The construction of the chain of hydroelectric power plants on the lower course of the Sava is essentially a multipurpose project with a shared focus on energy generation and infrastructure. Apart from generating electricity from a renewable energy source, water in this case, the project also pursues other goals that bring numerous positive impacts for the local communities and the people living along the Sava and farther out: flood protection, watercourse management, groundwater protection, economic development and sustained competitiveness of Slovenian businesses, positive impacts in terms of infrastructure, farming, irrigation, numerous possibilities for the development of tourism and sports through recreational and cycling paths, learning trails, wildlife lookout spots, grounds for water sports, and more.

This multipurpose project also serves an ecological purpose. Throughout the planning and construction stages, a strong focus is also being placed on providing nature protection configurations and replacement habitats for endangered species of animals. Aquatic organism passage facilities, or fishways, have been set up, nesting cliffs for birds and reed beds provided, and so were quiet areas with footpaths, man-made islands for plants and animals, and more.

The story behind the documentary

HESS is one of few companies to have been collecting and storing photo and video material on the construction of the HPP chain from day one. All this historical footage was scattered around in various archives up until last year, when we decided to compile all the material and produce a documentary account of the story about the biggest hydroelectric and water management project in independent Slovenia – the multipurpose project to build a chain of hydroelectric power plants on the lower course of the Sava River. The aim of the documentary is not only to offer a glimpse into the construction of the hydroelectric power plants but also to showcase the project in all its magnitude, from the planning of HPPs to the role of the Sava River through history to milestone political decisions, and particularly the ecological aspect of bringing the unspoilt nature of the Sava River's sources closer to the people of the Posavje region – in the form of reservoirs, possibilities for outdoor activities, and other.

As the making of such a film requires huge amounts of documentary material, we thank everyone who helped film, obtain or prepare the archive material, most of which was shared by courtesy. A thank-you also goes to those who were willing to make an appearance and present their views in the documentary, making the film even more relevant and authoritative. The script for the documentary was prepared by Mr Andrej Štricelj, who has been engaged in the construction of the HPPs from the outset. It was him who directed the film together with Mr Bojan Kostevc, who also provided the missing footage and took care of the editing. The project was steered and coordinated by Ms Suzana Poldan from HESS.

We at HESS are pleased to see the project to build energy generation facilities on the lower course of the Sava embraced strongly at the local and national levels, which inspires and motivates us to continue with our work and to carry on creating possibilities for generating electricity from renewable energy sources also in the future. Since the completion of the entire chain of hydroelectric power plants on the lower course of the Sava means environmentally friendly, clean energy while reducing the country's reliance on imported energy, it is important for the state to continue to endorse future projects of this kind.

To watch the documentary, please see the video gallery on our website.