Thirty years after the company’s founding, a team of engineers and installers work on solar power plant construction projects in the former welding workshop, whose original activity is still evidenced by some exhibits and awards on the wall. They say that they readily welcomed the market boom, which is perhaps not particularly surprising if we consider that this company was a pioneer in the construction of solar power plants, which managed to set standards for the quality of equipment, service, and maintenance. Although it is clear that the field of work has changed significantly over the past decades, we wanted to find out what the development path was like and how they persevered on it. In mid-January, right at their 30th business anniversary, we spoke with Miloš Kostić, the director and owner of MT-KOMEX.
EP: With what idea was the company MT-KOMEX founded?
Miloš Kostić: My father founded MT-KOMEX on January 15, 1993, and our main activity was welding. During high school, I worked in a workshop, which directed me to enroll in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, where I decided to major in process engineering. While studying, I spent every free moment in the workshop, learned from my father and other employees, and became a welding technologist. I got my first idea for business development in 2003 when I decided to prepare a small workshop service for welding tools to provide services to clients.
I received the first award in 2005 at the Welding Fair, which was held as part of the Energy Fair, as a special recognition for improving welding in Serbia. I continued to improve all segments in this business, and until 2009, I was engaged in welding when the world economic crisis began, which also affected us. That’s when I came up with the idea to transfer part of the people from welding and locksmithing to work on small hydropower plants. These jobs opened up new horizons, and I realized that the company should be redirected towards renewable energy sources. I founded the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Development in 2010 because I saw that very little is known about these topics and that this should be offered to the market.
EP: It’s a long way from welding to the first solar power plant you built in 2013. How do you feel about that development today?
Miloš Kostić: Working in the sector of renewable energy sources gave me insight into a completely unexplored and unknown area. I came up with the idea of becoming the first producer of green energy in Serbia, and that’s how the company Solaris Energy was born. Together with my partners, I started the construction of the first privately owned solar power plant in Serbia, which is located in the territory of the municipality of Kladovo. We started developing the project in 2011 in August, and at that moment, the municipality of Kladovo had a lot of understanding for us. The local self-government supported us, so they accelerated the procedures. We were the first to apply for an energy permit and the status of a privileged electricity producer. We also submitted a request for a feed-in tariff, and ProCredit Bank accompanied us in this endeavor and facilitated our capital investments.
Solar power plant Solaris has been successfully operating for nine years, we produce green energy, and our project plans have been realized. However, we wanted to go a step further, so we made Solaris the first agrosolar power plant, which means we have combined agriculture and electricity production. We did this by letting a herd of sheep graze the grass around the solar plant. The sheep enjoy the shade, good grazing is provided, and plot maintenance is no longer necessary.
EP: What is the most important thing you learned on this project?
Miloš Kostić: The development of the Solaris power plant project showed me how little was known about this in Serbia. At that time, there was no trained staff to handle these jobs. That’s exactly what gave me the idea to gather a team of engineers and provide them with training, and then we all progressed together because we trained together. Today, we have a team working on serious and largescale solar power projects. Considering all of this, it’s no surprise that we’ve readily welcomed this solar boom in our market, and I can safely say that we’re pioneers in this field. We set what the market should look like, and we set the standards when it comes to the quality of services, equipment, and maintenance.
I would like to point out one of our first jobs, the goal of which was to reduce the emission of harmful gases from wells, which we did for NIS Gazprom. We purified that gas and used it to generate electricity. Then we worked for NIS on another, for us, the most significant project. It is a wind farm with a capacity of 66 megawatts. At the same time, we worked on projects for industry and then, as now, we tried our best to inform people about the advantages of solar power plants. We gave them clear information and explained why the solar power plant is one of the energy efficiency measures without prejudice to the introduction of other measures.
Interviewed by: Milica Radičević
Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine ENERGETIC EFFICIENCY