Renewables

Serbian City of Pirot is attracting major investments in solar power

Serbian City Pirot major investments solar power

Photo: Aleksa Cakić / City of Pirot

Published

May 30, 2022

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Published:

May 30, 2022

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After notable progress on a national scale in energy efficiency, the local authority in Pirot in Serbia is working on solar power projects of all sizes and bringing investors to the city.

Neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska have their city of sun – Trebinje, and Pirot is on the way to reaching the same status in Serbia. It goes without saying that energy projects can’t really be counted on before breaking the ground at least, but the fact is that the city located in the country’s southeast has solar power plants of 5 kW to 500 MW in play, on top of solar collectors for households subsidized by the local authority.

The city’s Energy Manager Bojan Ivković told Balkan Green Energy News that it was the first in Serbia to establish a fund for cofinancing energy efficiency measures in the residential sector. The district heating system has been switched to compressed natural gas and the boilers in the remaining public buildings all run on biomass except one, which uses heating oil. The idea is to introduce biomass in the district heating plant as well and leave gas capacities in reserve.

Serbian City Pirot major investments solar power Bojan Ivkovic energy manager
Pirot’s Energy Manager Bojan Ivković

Strong solar irradiance is comparative advantage

“We have the best results in several areas in Serbia, and the people in our team in city management, led by Mayor Vladan Vasić, have been synchronized in their work for many years now. Free Zone Pirot gives excellent possibilities and attracts investments. Moreover, there is never a deficit in the budget and the city has access to European and other international funds. When all is put together, investors have trust, and we speak openly with them and they understand that we are serious,” Ivković stated.

The Pirot area has the strongest solar irradiance after the far south, which gives the city another advantage, the official said. Ivković stressed talks are underway with a certain foreign investor who would build a solar park with a capacity of 400 MW to 500 MW, which would currently make it one of the largest ones in Europe. He added there are other overseas companies interested in such projects as well.

An unnamed foreign investor is interested in installing a solar park of 400 MW to 500 MW

The procedure on the local level for a future photovoltaic system of 75 MW, under development by IEL PV South, is in a mature stage, the city’s energy manager underscored. The power plant should be installed in the vicinity of the village of Dobri Do.

The second project is envisaged to have a peak direct current capacity of 6 MW while 5 MW would be connected to a 35 kV power line. The city authority has just launched the public consultation process for the detailed regulation plan for the solar power plant at the Ravnište site in Ponor village and the plan’s environmental impact assessment.

The site spans 5,9 hectares of degraded agricultural and forest land. VR River Hydro Energy, based in the town of Brus, owns three out of the eight lots, and the rest belongs to a firm from Pirot called SEP. They are both registered for electricity production.

The documents were produced by Pirot’s public enterprise for planning and managing construction land. City officials said in September that the project was launched at the initiative of two interested investors who took four hectares under lease and were at the time in the process of buying the land.

Pirot has started its own solar projects

The City of Pirot has also decided to develop projects for rooftop solar power panels on its public institutions and make them prosumers. One 5 kW system has already been built on a school and it is about to be connected to be able to deliver its surplus power to the grid. The start of installation of solar panels with a total capacity of 15 kW should start within a week. It is the result of one of only few such pilot projects in Serbia with the Ministry of Mining and Energy and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.

The buildings of public institutions in Pirot will get rooftop solar power panels

The city management has independently begun to plan the construction of a solar power plant of 27 kW on the building of its utility firm. It is working on documentation for other public enterprises as well, Ivković pointed out.

Pirot’s energy manager pointed to the major wind potential in the part of Mt. Stara planina on its territory, as determined by potential investors who measured it, though the accessibility of the locations for construction is still an issue.

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