Serbia has improved its regulatory framework for renewable energy project development and cut red tape and it has a reliable investment environment, but auctions are still needed, Neda Lazendić, Country Manager at WV-International, said at the Belgrade Energy Forum 2023, organized by Balkan Green Energy News.
Neda Lazendić was one of the speakers on the panel ‘Major challenges for an increased share of renewable energy sources in the SEE region’.
WV-International is developing wind farm projects Alibunar 1 and 2 in Serbia in partnership with Emergy. They are in the final stages of negotiations on financing but they have also started the second investment cycle.
Despite difficulties, Serbia has a reliable investment environment, Lazendić said.
It is evident given that there are investors present in Serbia for ten years or so that launched their second investment cycles. Among them is WV-International, with the two projects, under development since 2013.
A strong local team is crucial for investors
She stressed that project development in Serbia requires a lot of time, but that it can be shortened if the investor has a strong local team. Along with a predictable legal framework, it is perhaps the most important thing to implement the project, in her words.
The projects implemented by WV-International in partnership with Emergy in the second investment cycle will benefit from all that, Lazendić said and added that their new projects have secured grid connections and should be online by 2025 or 2026.
She noted that the procedures under the laws on planning and construction and on the use of renewable energy sources have been significantly shortened and are implemented more efficiently.
Auctions should not be neglected
There is progress compared to the situation from ten years ago, but there is also room for improvement, Lazendić said.
However, other issues are hindering development, such as the purchase of wind turbines, financing and offtake of electricity.
Having it all in mind, auctions should not be neglected as they are a way to speed up investments in renewable energy, Lazendić stressed.
According to her, the planned 400 MW wind power auction is not insignificant, with regard to liquidity, as there is now a total of 380 MW in wind power plants on the grid.
Batteries could improve an investment
“Auctions are still necessary as a transitional phase towards a situation where projects would be implemented only for the market,” she said.
Lazendić expressed the belief that with by introducing the possibility to require the installation of battery systems the government intended to ensure energy security. However, the size, at 20% of a project’s capacity, is not right it should be defined later, she underscored.
Batteries will have to be developed and that’s inevitable even without the requirement, because they are something that could improve an investment, she noted.