State-controlled power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) has launched a pilot project with US company E3 International for the use of biomass from energy crops, primarily fast-growing willows, for the production of electricity in coal-fired power plants.
Milorad Grčić, acting director of Elektroprivreda Srbije, Bonnie Norman, President of E3 International, and representatives of the Government of Serbia, embassies and international institutions visited the fast-growing willows planted on the edge of the field G of the open-pit mines in mining basin Kolubara. It is a pilot phase of the SLLES project (Sustainable Land, Livelihoods and Energy Initiative Serbia) in EPS, the company said.
Domestic white willow and Scandinavian inger willow were planted on 3.17 hectares. These trees could give up to 112 tons of biomass per hectare.
The project secures the reclamation of unused and degraded land, and the production of energy from biomass
Bonnie Norman said there are 1.6 million hectares of unused and degraded land in Serbia, including mines and landfills. The project will secure its reclamation, and the production of energy from biomass, but it can also create new jobs and enable an easier energy transition, she added.
The willows, planted near an open-pit mine, can be cut 12 times within 25 years in order to be used in thermal power plants together with lignite for electricity production, said Norman.
Joint use of coal and biomass in power plants will provide for cleaner air
According to her, coal and biomass burned together will secure cleaner air. She claims it is a profitable investment that would show results within five years.
Norman has announced the reclamation of new hectares around the Kolubara open-pit mines in the autumn.
Milorad Grčić, acting director of EPS, said green energy production and environmental protection are high on the company’s agenda.
The main priority of EPS is the production of electricity, followed by green energy production, and the increase of its share, and environmental protection, said Grčić, adding that EPS has so far invested EUR 540 million in environmental projects.
Daniel Berg, advisor at E3 International and former EBRD director in Serbia, thanked the director of EPS for his support and excellent cooperation.
Wood biomass from 75,000 ha of SRPs can substitute 10% of Serbia’s coal-based energy
According to the SLLES project website, bioeconomy solutions will play a critical role in Serbia’s energy transition based on three elements including short rotation coppices or plantations (SRPs) of fast-growing tree (e.g. willow) and reed (Arundo) species for the production of woody biomass and biogas, respectively, for heat and power.
The solutions are currently being piloted on four sites in Vojvodina Province: a landfill, municipal degraded agricultural land, private land, and next to a coal mine.
It is estimated that wood biomass from 75,000 ha of SRPs can substitute 10% of Serbia’s coal-based energy through co-firing in coal-powered plants.