Serbia has decided to stop the construction of the Kolubara B thermal power plant, which could be seen as the first serious step in the energy transition and the decarbonization of the energy sector. The Ministry of Mining and Energy said the energy transition does not mean a sudden closure of coal-fired power plants, but development, investments and new jobs.
The Ministry of Mining and Energy told state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) in a letter to suspend all activities on the construction of the 350 MW Kolubara B thermal power plant. The Kolubara mining basin trade union then today organized a protest at the facility’s construction site near Kalenić.
In recent years, Serbia has commissioned wind farms with a capacity of 500 MW in total, but it still produces two thirds of its electricity in coal-fired power plants with an overall capacity of 4 GW. In addition, EPS is already building the Kostolac B3 thermal power plant, with a capacity of 350 MW, and it has also planned Kolubara B. With the adoption of the first law on renewables, the Ministry of Mining and Energy, led by Minister Zorana Mihajlović, ended the deadlock in the energy transition process and created conditions for increasing green energy production, but the real challenge is reducing production in coal-fired power plants.
Last year, a contract was signed to continue the construction of Kolubara B
In March last year EPS signed a contract with the Power Construction Corp. of China for the construction of the Kolubara B thermal power plant, which started in the late 1980s but was soon stopped. The preparations prompted a public uproar, so in September, after an hour of heated debate, the public hearing on the draft spatial plan and strategic environmental impact assessment of the construction of the Kolubara B was halted.
The ministry is asking EPS to stop construction, the Kolubara mining basin trade union said
Miodrag Ranković, president of the Kolubara mining basin trade union, told Balkan Green Energy News that the ministry had sent a letter to Milorad Grčić, director of EPS, requesting that all activities on the construction of Kolubara B be stopped.
“Because of the letter, but also because of everything minister Zorana Mihajlović said, among other things, that our coal is dirty and that it would stop the activities of the Kolubara and Kostolac mining basins, we have organized a protest,” said Ranković.
Ranković said plans to close thermal power plants and mines are breaking the backbone of EPS, and that lights would go out in Serbia if it happens.
Ministry: Energy transition means planning, not sudden closure of coal power plants
The ministry said the energy transition does not mean the sudden closure of thermal power plants or the loss of jobs, but above all the adoption of a plan for the period until 2050 that will ensure that Serbia has enough energy, which includes investments in new power plants and new jobs.
In order for Serbia to be among the winners of the energy transition, the ministry, together with all other relevant institutions, is preparing plans and strategies to enable Serbia to act in a timely manner, plan the operation of its power plants by 2050 and ensure Serbia has enough energy.
The energy transition will not happen overnight, but it will be managed in a planned and strategic manner with the cooperation between the state, companies, unions and employees
According to the ministry, there are incorrect and malicious interpretations of its intentions aimed at causing fear among EPS’s employees that coal power plants would suddenly be closed and they would be fired.
Those who are trying to undermine the initial phase of Serbia’s energy transition, which is underway in Europe and all over the world, do not wish well to the largest energy companies or their employees, the ministry said.
New jobs will be created with the construction of new hydropower plants, gas power plants, solar power plants, wind farms
According to the ministry, the truth is that the energy transition means planning together with large investments in new energy capacities. Investments imply job creation with the construction and management of hydropower plants, gas power plants, solar power plants, wind farms, and other power plants that use renewables, as well as in the accompanying technologies and the production of components and equipment.
“The whole process did not start nor will it happen overnight, but it is managed in a planned and strategic manner, in cooperation between the state, companies, unions and employees. Together with the unions, we will make plans for the operation of power plants by 2050, which includes a gradual reduction of electricity production from coal,” the Ministry of Mining and Energy said.