Energy, economy, and foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Republika Srpska (an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Serbia believe that energy knows no borders, which requires regional cooperation, while they are adamant that every country has the right to determine its own energy mix.
According to the ministers, who spoke at the Summit on Energy Security in the Region in Belgrade, fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in this energy mix, at the same time announcing new nuclear power capacities.
Renewable energy sources are the future, while for Montenegro they are already a reality, according to participants in the conference, organized by Adria Media Group.
Antić (Serbia): We have the right to use our resources
Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antić said that countries in the region have the obligation to cooperate because energy knows no borders.
The region has a number of joint projects, such as the natural gas pipeline that should connect to TurkStream and pass through Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary and the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor, he said.
As part of the TurkStream project, the first quantities of gas should start running from Bulgaria to Serbia in 2020, said Antić, noting that the Serbian section will be built by December 18, 2019.
The Serbian minister went on to say that he supports energy transition and the diversification of supply but also national sovereignty.
He believes that those responsible for the bulk of environmental pollution are now setting the rules of the game in energy production for others.
Serbia has the right to use its resources [coal], according to Antić, who noted that even the most developed countries continue to use fossil fuels.
Serbia’s position is that it needs a responsible policy on coal and major impetus to renewable energy sources, he said.
Szijjarto (Hungary): All countries should act in line with their national interests
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that the region is under pressure from both the East and the West but that all countries should act in line with their national interests.
Szijjarto said that the region should respect 4 key principles: all decisions should be made in agreement with countries in the region; there should be no double standards, for example criticizing the region when it cooperates with Russia, while the same is fine when the West does it; the energy mix is every country’s national choice; and gas from Asia is one of the options.
If gas is not secured through the project to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Croatia’s Krk island and from Romania’s planned Black Sea gas projects, then the TurkStream is the only option, according to him.
According to Szijjarto, Western friends do not like this, calling it a Russian project.
However, countries taking part in the TurkStream project include Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Serbia, three of which are members of the EU and NATO, therefore this is a European project, Szijjarto said.
Petkova (Bulgaria): The region will have a deficit in electricity generation
Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that diversification means secure supply at competitive prices.
Bulgaria is building several gas interconnections, including TurkStream, and intends to participate in the construction of the LPG terminal in Greece.
She said that a regional transmission network for electricity should also be developed, and noted that Bulgaria is currently implementing five projects in this sector.
The effect of the energy transition in the region will be a deficit in electricity production, therefore Bulgaria intends to implement certain projects, including the construction of a new nuclear power plant.
Sekulić (Montenegro): Our future is 100% renewables
Her counterpart from Montenegro, Economy Minister Dragica Sekulić, announced that Montenegro has succeeded for the first time to achieve 10 days of coal-free power generation by using hydropower plants and wind farms.
It was a struggle with old-school electrical engineers, who claimed that the power system could not function without coal-fired power plants, but it turned out that this is possible with good planning, Sekulić said.
According to her, Montenegro has chosen an energy transition path and a 100% renewables future.
Each country should choose its energy identity in energy generation, while the countries of the region should interconnect their energy systems and markets, Sekulić said.
She noted that Montenegro was the first country in the region to introduce a market-based scheme for renewables, and recalled that the country signed a contract on the construction of a 250 MW solar power plant at the Briska Gora location at the end of 2018.
When the Italy-Montenegro submarine cable becomes operational, by the end of this year, Montenegro will turn into an energy hub and a good investment location for renewables, she said.
Đokić (RS, BiH entity): Speedy reforms to cause major problems
According to Republika Srpska’s (RS) Energy Minister Petar Đokić, the RS intends to build new power plants using hydropower, solar and wind energy.
The RS is aware that it must continue the decarbonization process, he said, adding that developed countries have achieved growth and development by using fossil fuels.
A fast energy transition could cause economic and social problems, therefore the region must persuade partners in the EU to understand its position in this sector, Đokić said.
The RS is aware of its responsibilities and is implementing several projects to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Đokić said that the construction of two wind farms with a capacity of 100 MW is in the pipeline, while a 200 MW solar power plant in Herzegovina is also planned.
Preparations are being made for the construction of 3 HPPs – Foča, Paunci and Buk Bijela – with Serbia, the construction of HPP Dubrovnik 2 is planned with Croatia.
Anton (Romania): Every country has to choose a technological model
Romania’s Energy Minister Anton Anton said that without nuclear power, renewables targets could not be achieved, adding that the country intends to build a nuclear power plant.
Renewables are intermittent, securing energy only when the conditions are right, according to Anton.
Energy storage solutions can change this, and Romania is implementing one such innovative project. The project in Craiova will use excess power from wind farms to store and extract gas in underground gas storage, while the gas will be used for a cogeneration plant facility, which used to be a coal-fired power plant.
According to Anton, decarbonization is a painful process, which creates social problems, primarily in the mining sector, and Romania has initiated training for miners to become maintenance workers.
Reforms are in progress, but every country has to choose a technological model that will be applied in its energy transition, he said.