Setting up photovoltaic systems is cost-effective for everyone – from households to large energy consumers in the industrial sector, experts and businessmen said at the First Big Conference on Solar Energy in Serbia. Participants at a panel discussion called ‘Solar energy for the industry – reduce the costs, green your business!’ pointed out that by building their own solar power plants, companies protect themselves from jumps in electricity prices. On top of that, partners in developed countries are increasingly insisting on doing business with firms that use clean energy.
The share of power in product prices and business expenses has a growth trend, and factory owners can partly or almost completely avoid turbulences in the electricity market by installing a solar power plant on the roof of their facility, Director of Energize Vladimir Popović said. Speaking at the First Big Conference on Solar Energy in Serbia, he stressed such an investment is socially responsible and that it enables repositioning toward buyers.
Everyone must give their maximum in the efforts to ease climate change and align Serbia with the provisions from the Paris Agreement, he said at a panel discussion named ‘Solar energy for the industry – reduce the costs, green your business!’ Besides, an own energy source secures a company from the future charges for carbon dioxide emissions and makes it more competitive in the global market, Popović pointed out.
“Serbia has the least solar per capita in Europe. We have a very small share in total renewables production capacity,” he underscored and said the technology has become cost-effective for everyone, from households and small consumers to industrial production.
Popović added a solar power plant is not an investment: “A solar power plant is something that you already paid in the next five years, through your electricity bill. With possibilities enabled by high-quality funds, the investment can pay for itself.”
Significance of domestic market presence
Business Development Manager Nino Sijerić from Luxor Solar pointed to the fact that businesses examine all items in a solar power project that could make it more or less cost-effective but that the producer’s presence in the domestic market is also an important element.
“Is the brand or solar panel recognizable on a local level? Does it have references? Can I go to Pazova, Niš, Subotica to a user to see how it really works? Are they satisfied and, finally, how does the production process look?” Sijerić underscored. He added solar panels make up 60% of the expenses.
Partners are careful about energy sources
Al Pack from Subotica is currently building a solar power plant on its factory roof and it will be the biggest facility of its kind in Serbia, at 1.1 MW. Co-owner Nemanja Mikać said the company sells most of its products in the European Union and stressed that businesspeople there are asking him about the source of energy that the firm uses. Al Pack entered the electricity storage sector this year and the issue is even more relevant in the segment as potential partners seek guarantees that the energy is 100% renewable, he revealed.
It is becoming a condition with the growth of awareness on electric mobility and energy storage, and standards will be launched and developed in the area, just like ISO earlier, Mikać estimated.
“Firms are slowly starting to shape procurement and even rank suppliers based on how much CO2 it emits… It is a new parameter that is now slowly emerging. It is still not in any demands, but it comes up in discussions, and people are mentioning it in their marketing material, and soon it will become a condition,” he underscored.
Decentralization is dream come true for power distributors, transmission operators
The proposed Law on Renewable Energy Sources is introducing the category of prosumers, literally buyers-producers. A few of them have already been present for the past few years, but now the category gets certainty and some elements have been covered in precise terms, according to Professor Aleksandar Janjić from the Faculty of Electronic Engineering at the University of Niš. The buyer-producer isn’t eligible for a market premium, which is normal, as the goal is to make it possible for them only to satisfy their own needs, he added and stressed that the law is being passed at just the right time for households and small consumers.
Predrag Matić, head of planning and investment in Serbia’s distribution system operator Elektrodistribucija Srbije, explained that decentralization is a dream come true for every company involved in distribution and transmission as its expenses are lower when power is produced and consumed in the same place. However, when a large producer appears in a scarcely inhabited area, connecting the source could be an issue and, besides that, its electricity must be transported to other hubs in the distribution system, with losses and a decrease in voltage, he noted.
Incentives make all difference
Banks are key for the massive deployment of solar power and in channeling funds from big financiers like international development and financial institutions to the users, said Aleksandar Ranđelović, a financial consultant for small and medium-sized enterprises. He spoke highly of incentive policies and claimed that grants of 10% or 20% of investment can make a great difference in the expansion of the technology.
In Ranđelović’s opinion, as a solar power plant can be paid off in seven years, a bank doesn’t need to draw long-term credit lines, which have less favorable terms. The European Banking Authority recently proposed that all lenders introduce in their reporting a green asset ratio, a measure of the green portfolio’s share in total assets, he noted and added that banks are abandoning coal and fossil fuel projects and that the effects would be felt here soon.
Advisor to the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Miroslav Lutovac pointed out that the renewables bill recognizes market participants that aren’t professionals and aren’t completely familiar with the matter. Citizens and the industry can make profits even if they don’t know the power market rules in details, he said.
Businesses secure the stability of their activities in the long run by building a solar facility, Lutovac underscored. “You will buy electricity by paying upfront, but you will buy electricity for a period of more than twenty years and at the same time you will pay 30% of the actual price in the long-term period,” he estimated.