Serbia to commission first study on possibility of building nuclear power plants


Photo: Wirestock on Freepik


June 20, 2024



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June 20, 2024



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The Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia invited consultancies to apply to conduct an analysis of available nuclear energy technologies including small modular reactors. The country’s top officials intend to scrap a 1989 moratorium, which would allow the construction of one or more nuclear power plants.

Given the growing need for energy foreseen in the upcoming decades, supported by accelerated electrification of economic activities together with an increase in the share of renewable sources in the grid and the reduction of coal power production, nuclear energy needs to be considered as an equal option that can contribute to a stable supply of low-carbon electricity, in addition to hydro energy and gas, which is seen as a transitional fuel, according to the Ministry of Mining and Energy. It launched a public procurement order titled ‘The production of a preliminary technical study for considering the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the Republic of Serbia’.

Consultants can apply by July 16 to conduct “a thorough comparative and credible analysis of options for the technologies available in the market including small modular reactors (SMRs)” and recommend the solutions. Since 1989 a moratorium has been in force in Serbia. In particular, there is a ban on the construction of nuclear power plants and facilities for producing nuclear fuel and processing used nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants.

Top state officials led by President Aleksandar Vučić intend to abolish the law and consider the possibility of installing one or more reactors.

Next step is getting scientific, academic communities on board

Eligible are consultancies with a total annual income of at least EUR 205,000. The ministry estimated that the task can be delivered within 12 weeks.

Serbia can benefit from the international nuclear energy community’s expertise and experience

The Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (INECP or NECP), currently in preparation, includes a scenario where nuclear energy is introduced into the national mix. The relevant ministries and members of the scientific and academic communities will sign a memorandum of understanding setting the framework for cross-institutional cooperation, knowledge exchange and human resources development, the document reads.

In the evaluation, Serbia is leaning on the approach of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the public call adds. The country can also benefit from the international nuclear energy community’s expertise and experience, the ministry underscored.

Generation 4 reactors not to be considered

The study needs to cover conventional, generation 3+ nuclear power plants as well as more advanced technologies like SMRs. Generation 4 reactors won’t be included, though, “considering time-to-market criteria, technological and supply chain maturity and operation and maintenance challenges that a newcomer country like Serbia would encounter in handling this technology,” the project assignment shows.

The selected contractor would be responsible for a comprehensive assessment of the potential benefits and challenges of building nuclear power plants, from the electricity grid perspective, having in mind that in 2026 the domestic electricity market could be coupled with the single European market, the ministry said.

The consultant would be tasked with calculating the historical and targeted costs per unit, presenting in detail the supply chain and producing a high-level assessment of potential project partners.

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