Serbia’s new Minister of Mining and Energy Dubravka Đedović said her priority would be to reform the energy sector. Electricity and gas prices must be increased, while the country should examine how to use domestic lithium reserves, she stressed.
Dubravka Đedović visited the Kolubara mining basin, saying she wanted to get first-hand information on coal production. Serbia produces two thirds of its electricity from coal. Coal mining is the main factor for electricity imports and costs for the upcoming winter, she pointed out.
The minister told Euronews Serbia that coal pit workers are making maximum efforts and that they absolutely understand the importance of the task. All efforts have been made to increase production, to make it stable and predictable, she added.
Đedović: I know the mining and energy sector well and can get down to business quickly and efficiently
Đedović emphasized that her priority would be energy sector reform including state-owned companies and that it has been delayed for a long time. She also stressed she is well acquainted with the mining and energy sector and that it would allow her to get to work quickly and efficiently.
She claimed she knows well how to initiate and execute large infrastructure projects. She highlighted the construction of unit B3 in the Kostolac coal-fired thermal power plant with a capacity of 350 megawatts and the gas pipeline between Serbia and Bulgaria as some of her tasks.
Pumped storage hydropower plants are crucial for renewables deployment
Đedović said she would also work on building new hydropower plants and securing a good energy mix based on coal and hydropower. The latter segment must be strengthened to integrate renewable energy, in her view.
Serbia needs to start building pumped storage hydropower plants to increase the use of renewable energy sources, the new minister stressed.
Electricity, gas prices are low and unsustainable
Đedović said the operation of state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) need to become sustainable and explained that it means covering production costs and lowering them where possible. She noted that households and businesses in Serbia have some of the lowest electricity and gas prices in the region and Europe.
“You need to cover the costs. How can you cover them if your production price is higher than what you sell for?” Đedović asked.
The prices of electricity and gas have been very low for many years
Therefore, an increase in electricity and gas prices must come up on the agenda at some point, and sooner rather than later, in her words.
Đedović also said energy companies in Europe increased power and gas prices by three, four or five times, and sometimes even more, amid the energy crisis. The tariffs in Serbia are low and unsustainable, not only this year, but for many years, and citizens should be aware, she said.
On lithium: if Serbia wants to develop, it should use its potentials
Đedović said Serbia is lucky to have reserves of a very important mineral such as lithium, arguing it is necessary for the use of renewable energy sources and that they are the priority for the entire world.
She expressed the belief Serbia should consider how it can use the opportunity.
Natural resources can’t be utilized without harming the environment
Đedović asserted that she would examine the matter, “to see what was done, what was not done and why it was not done.” Countries with resources they don’t use are at a loss, she stressed.
Đedović said no natural resource can be utilized without harming the environment and underscored that the question is what measures will be taken to reduce the risks.
If Serbia intends to develop and work to have better living conditions for citizens and better wages, then it should use the opportunity, but with the implementation of all measures that can minimize the risks, and make them acceptable if possible, said Đedović.