Renewables

Japan approves participation in Bistrica pumped storage hydropower project in Serbia

Japan Bistrica pumped storage hydropower project JICA Serbia

Photo: Emilija Jovanović / Ministry of Mining and Energy

Published

May 8, 2024

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Published:

May 8, 2024

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Minister of Mining and Energy of Serbia Dubravka Đedović Handanović spoke with Chief Representative of the Balkan Office of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Masahiro Ueki about the financing and construction of the Bistrica pumped storage hydropower plant. It is the first project of its kind in the country after three decades.

The Government of Japan and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs have formalized the participation of state agency JICA in the Bistrica pumped storage hydropower project of 628 MW, Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Dubravka Đedović Handanović announced.

The hydropower facility is important for balancing and storing energy, she noted. “By the end of the year we will finish the technical documentation preparation process so that next year we would begin the preparatory works,” according to the minister.

Bistrica is the most important project in the country’s energy sector and it is also acknowledged in the Skok u budućnost – Srbija EXPO 2027 program (Leap to the Future – Serbia EXPO 2027), the ministry stressed. At the same time it will be the first such investment in Serbia after three decades.

Spatial planning underway alongside two studies

Đedović Handanović spoke about financing and the construction of the facility with JICA’s Balkan Office Chief Representative Masahiro Ueki. He expressed support for the continuation of the bilateral cooperation in energy and highlighted the significance of pumped storage hydropower plant Bistrica for the security of supply and the decarbonization of the energy sector in Serbia.

The project design and feasibility study have been completed

The project design and feasibility study have been completed. Work on the special purpose area spatial plan is underway together with the environmental impact assessment study and the study on the protection of immovable cultural assets, the ministry added.

Japan formalized the decision that JICA would start a preliminary study on the construction of the Bistrica pumped storage hydropower plant after the official visit by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Yasushi Hosaka two weeks ago. He attended the commissioning of a desulfurization system in the TENT A coal power plant near Belgrade, where JICA participated in the project.

Project is worth EUR 1.2 billion

According to the latest estimates, pumped storage hydropower plant Bistrica will cost EUR 1.2 billion. The location is downstream from the existing Bistrica hydroelectric facility in the country’s southwest. Built in 1960, it is part of the Drina-Lim branch of state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) and the Lim river cascade in particular. Its nominal capacity is 104 MW. The plant is about to be reconstructed. It has two turbines.

The Vlasina river cascade – Vlasinske hidroelektrane – is also planned for revigoration. The system includes a complex with two pumps. Serbia has one pure pumped storage hydropower plant as well. The Bajina Bašta facility, completed in 1982, has two turbines of 614 MW in combined capacity. In pumping mode it operates at a maximum of 620 MW, according to EPS’s data.

In an earlier tender, the Bistrica pumped storage hydropower project was cited with 628.4 MW of capacity in generation mode. It would consist of four turbines. The same number of pumps would consume up to 671.6 MW in total.

It should be noted that nearby across the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina construction is underway of three units on an eponymous river. The project is called Hidroelektrane Bistrica. The works, which began two and a half years ago, have suffered delays over environmental complaints and financing.

In addition, Serbia is preparing the Đerdap 3 pumped storage hydropower project.

Such investments have been launched over the past several years in almost all the countries in the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News. Pumped storage systems also exist in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, and they all plan to build more.

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