Electricity

New troubles for Serbia’s EPS: coal plant TENT B is offline amid breakdown, fire

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Photo: EPS

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December 28, 2021

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Published:

December 28, 2021

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After a coal mill was damaged in the B2 unit of the Nikola Tesla B power plant, state-owned electricity company EPS claimed production wasn’t affected, but the Government of Serbia then acknowledged it was taken off the grid. B1 is inactive since December 26 due to a fire.

Only two weeks after a major outage in the two biggest thermal power plants in Serbia, which caused serious disturbances in electricity supply, the TENT B facility ceased production again due to two incidents in a row. Government-controlled coal and power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije, EPS, told national broadcaster RTS that unit B2 would be back online during the day and that B1 would be repaired tomorrow.

Some equipment is bad despite refurbishment

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlović said on K1 TV soon after that both units would start working again by tonight and revealed the country is using only 40% of its thermal power plant capacity. Asked about expenses for electricity imports, she estimated they would be measured in hundreds of millions of euros for the whole season and that an entire pumped storage hydropower plant could have been built with the same funds.

Mihajlović noted the B1 unit has been refurbished a month ago, but also admitted “there is bad equipment” there. She asserted that EPS didn’t inform the government on either of the two latest incidents. Mirroring the statements of President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, she said the acting director of EPS Milorad Grčić would soon be deposed.

Jump in power imports

Unit B1 is out of order since December 26 because of a fire at the fuel oil system’s burner. The fuel is added to coal as domestic lignite is of insufficient quality. One of the eight coal mills in the B2 unit has been damaged yesterday, but EPS then claimed it didn’t affect production. After that the Government of Serbia revealed B2 is offline and added both units should be repaired today.

Capacity utilization of Serbia’s coal-fired power plants fell to 1.6 GW at one point yesterday, compared to the post-collapse peak of 3.2 GW registered on December 24. Today the level shortly reached 2.2 GW, according to data from transmission system operator Elektromreža Srbije (EMS) on its Energy Flux application.

Imports were as high as 2 GW overnight, and currently they are at 1.2 GW.

Fiscal Council President Pavle Petrović pointed to results of the government-appointed watchdog’s analysis from 2019 that investments in EPS are insufficient, sometimes even lower than the amortization level. At the time, the expert group stressed there are delays in stripping the overburden, the layers of soil above coal, and that the rate of distribution losses is one of the worst in Europe.

Of note, the repairs have started in the B2 unit in the Kosova B coal plant in Kosovo*, after the arrival of an expert from Germany, domestic media outlets learned. Minister of Finance, Labor and Transfers Hekuran Murati said power imports are worth EUR 2.4 million per day. Kosova A and Kosova B suffered several outages this season.

Kosovo* has declared an energy emergency and imposed a rotating electricity outage that could last for two months. In some places, the power is out for 12 hours a day, according to local reports.

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