Electricity

Serbia importing over 25% of electricity amid outages due to snow

Photo: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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December 13, 2021

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Published:

December 13, 2021

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More than 90,000 consumers in Serbia were without electricity this morning. Almost 1.5 GW of current consumption is being covered by imports, which is unprecedented, after outages at the two biggest coal-fired thermal power plants – TENT A and TENT B.

The first strong snow this season paralyzed transportation in Serbia and caused malfunctions in district heating systems, the production and distribution of electricity, and even water supply. At one point yesterday, the biggest coal-fired plant in Serbia, Nikola Tesla A (TENT A), ground to a halt, employees in state-owned coal and power producer Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) said on social networks.

One of two units in the nearby TENT B reportedly also suffered an outage, which raised concern about possible restrictions, but also a breakdown of the country’s entire electric power system.

According to the data from the Energy Flux application of Serbia’s transmission system operator Elektromreža Srbije (EMS), electricity is being imported from all sides except Romania, and the net capacity coming from abroad is 1.5 GW. There is just above 1.2 GW of domestic coal-fired capacity online, less than half from the level registered one week before.

Serbia importing over 25 electricity outages snow
Photo: Energy Flux

Minister: 30% of capacity is offline

Most of the Obrenovac municipality, where TENT A is located, was yesterday without electricity, district heating and water. Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlović said this morning at the town that 30% of the country’s electric power system has crashed, together with 2,000 substations, but that she hopes the situation would be stabilized within two days. She earlier urged citizens to be rational with electricity consumption.

The government’s emergency teams revealed more than 90,000 consumers didn’t have electricity this morning, mostly in Serbia’s west.

Electric power systems unstable throughout region

The snow and wind caused outages at the grid also in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia. Kosovo* and North Macedonia are struggling to obtain enough coal and imported electricity, and both lately suffered outages thermal power plants, which are all obsolete. Albania has no coal-fired capacity. Instead, it is forced to import electricity to meet the demand that it cannot cover with domestic hydropower plants.

Now Serbia is also forced to import highly expensive electricity and test the strength of its cross-border capacity. Experts have been warning that the domestic lignite is of extremely low quality. According to some reports, in Obrenovac there is not enough heating oil, which is necessary to burn the coal that has high shares of mud, clay, sand and moisture. Mihajlović said the delivery of 50 tanks of the fuel was arranged overnight.

Footage has just appeared on social media that allegedly shows mud instead of coal at a coal crusher in TENT A.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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