Electricity

Serbia’s ambitious energy security plan targets 50% renewables share by 2040

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February 8, 2022

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Published:

February 8, 2022

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Serbia plans to build solar power plants, wind farms, and pumped-storage hydropower plants, but also gas-fired power plants, energy storage batteries, and hydrogen facilities, in order to implement the energy transition. Coal-fired power plants would be closed by 2050, but not before there is enough green power capacity to replace them. The plan envisages building the new power plants on state land, as well as setting up a company called Green Energy of Serbia, according to a document published by the Ministry of Mining and Energy.

The document, titled Energy Security of Serbia, lists short-term and long-term solutions for all segments of the energy sector, aimed at achieving strategic goals such as energy security, the security of supply, the energy efficiency of buildings, a just energy transition, and decarbonization by 2050.

Serbia sees the energy transition and green development as a new industrial revolution and a new model of growth, which could result in strong economic growth only if it is guided by the partnership of all stakeholders, the ministry said.

The document sets a 49.6% target for the share of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption by 2040, compared to 26.3% at the end of 2020. The plan is to achieve climate neutrality and decarbonize the economy by 2050.

The state’s share in large renewable power plant projects should be increased

Apart from establishing the company Green Energy of Serbia, tasked with building new green power plants to achieve energy security, the planned short-term steps include the modernization of the transmission and distribution grids.

The ministry suggests increasing the state’s stake in large renewable energy projects and “reserving” the space for these capacities given the limited natural, spatial, and transmission resources.

The government eyes 100% ownership or a majority share in the new power plants, but finding strategic partners is also an option

In the long run, the ministry believes the right way forward is to build renewable power plants, pumped-storage hydropower plants, energy storage batteries, as well as gas-fired power plants as a transitional solution. The government’s goal is to have 100% or majority ownership in the new facilities, but finding strategic partners is also an option.

A very important part of the long-term solution is to popularize electricity production for self-consumption and the installation of solar panels in households and industry. It is estimated that solar panels could be mounted on 600 square kilometers of roofs, the document reads.

After the construction of sufficient capacities for the production of electricity from renewable sources, the shutdown of obsolete coal power plants should begin.

Coal phaseout to be achieved by 2050

The ministry proposes a detailed timeline to be drafted for the coal phaseout, with a plan to keep several units running for alternative fuel research, including biomass and hydrogen.

A plan should be developed for a transition of coal power plant Morava to an innovation center. Of note, in December 2021 state power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije started a procedure to convert it to natural gas.

Coal power plant Morava could be a demonstration center for the use of hydrogen

Also, it is necessary to determine the dynamics for gradually reducing the coal-fired power plants’ operation to minimum capacity or putting them on cold reserve, or for shutting them down by 2050, the document reads.

The ministry believes that until full decarbonization and coal phaseout are achieved, the operation of coal power plants only makes sense if coal of required quality is used.

Photo: muenzi1958 from Pixabay

Renewable power plants with installed capacity of up to 10,000 MW are needed to replace coal power plants

In order to replace all of its coal-fired plants, with a combined installed capacity of 4,400 MW, Serbia needs to build 8,000-10,000 MW of wind, solar, and hydro power plants. However, to reach the greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, it is necessary to build a total of 21,000-22,000 MW of renewable capacity, the document reads.

Currently, Serbia has 2,900 MW of renewable power plants, of which 2,350 MW are hydropower plants and the rest are wind farms.

About EUR 21 billion is needed for the construction of wind farms, solar power plants, and hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 27,850 MW

The investment plan for energy and mining, prepared by the ministry, is valued at EUR 35 billion, of which EUR 21 billion is planned for green power plants – hydropower plants, solar parks, and wind farms.

The ministry estimates that there is a possibility of public-private partnerships for the construction of wind farms with a capacity of about 3,700 MW. State projects for solar power plants would be developed on a total of 8,300 hectares of neglected state-owned land, while the plan also includes floating solar power plants, with an estimated capacity of 650 MW.

Pumped storage hydropower plants, batteries, and hydrogen will be used for balancing

About 11,000 MW of solar panels can be installed on rooftops, and a further 1,400 MW on land owned by power utility EPS.

Two pumped-storage hydropower plants are planned, Đerdap 3 and Bistrica, with a total capacity of about 2,500 MW, while hydropower plants with a capacity of 300 MW could also be built on the rivers Ibar and Morava.

The ministry sees energy storage facilities, such as pumped-storage hydropower plants, batteries, and green hydrogen storage, as a solution for the balancing issues.

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