In a move to address extreme air pollution, authorities in Serbia have announced district heating units in Kragujevac would be converted from coal to gas and that boilers using solid fuels in kindergartens, schools, health centers and households would be replaced with those that use cleaner sources.
EUR 12.5 million was secured for the conversion of boilers in district heating units in Kragujevac from coal to gas, while it remains unclear how much money has been earmarked for the replacement of boilers in public institutions and households.
The firm responsible for district heating in Kragujevac is one of the three large systems that use coal in Serbia. According to Dejan Stojanović, director of the Serbian Association of District Heating Plants, the share of natural gas in heating plants is 81%, while the rest is fuel oil (10%), and coal (9%). Aside from Kragujevac, two other large heating plants – Bor and Kruševac, also use coal.
More than half of district heating energy in Kragujevac is produced from coal
Stojanović said the use of renewable sources, such as biomass, but also solar-thermal projects and heat pumps for wastewater are the solution for reducing harmful emissions from heating plants.
Coal accounts for 55% of the fuel in the six boilers managed by district heating company Energetika in Kragujevac. Andrej Ilić, its director, said EUR 12.5 million has been secured in the Serbian budget for 2021 for the purchase of new boilers on natural gas.
The citizens of Kragujevac will get better heating, and air quality will be significantly improved, Ilić told RTS.
Subsidies for replacement of solid fuel boilers
Minister of Environmental Protection Irena Vujović said the heating plant operator in Kragujevac is one of the major polluters in the city and that the air pollution issue would be solved.
As a solution to the same problem in other towns in Serbia, she said public calls would be issued for legal entities, and conducted through local authorities, for the replacement of boilers in kindergartens, health centers, schools and wherever necessary, the ministry said on its website.
The idea is to enable the transition from solid fuels to more environmentally friendly energy sources in order to reduce air pollution, she added.
The ministry will also launch a public call for households to apply for subsidies to replace their boilers. Vujović called on local authorities to prepare projects and apply.