Serbia’s coal and electricity producer Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) said it is reconsidering the plan to reconstruct coal plant units TENT A1 and TENT A2 and that it intends to start works on TENT B2 in 2025, while the project was supposed to begin this year.
Serbia is struggling with low-quality lignite, a lack of capacity for the production of the fuel and the bad shape that its old thermal power plants are in. The government and EPS were sweeping the state-owned utility’s woes under a rug for years until a series of severe incidents last winter almost broke the country’s electricity system apart. Similar outages occurred in Kosovo* and North Macedonia.
Analysts have estimated the damage and the resulting emergency electricity imports for Serbia at between EUR 500 million and EUR 1 billion. Moreover, water reserves at reservoirs used by hydropower plants are at the lowest point in at least five years on a seasonal level due to excessive use and unfavorable hydrological conditions.
Project for giving TENT B2 unit new life pushed back three years
Earlier this month, the media got hold of documents that revealed delays in the reconstruction plans for three units in coal power plants Nikola Tesla (TENT) A and B, located in Obrenovac in Belgrade territory. Works on the second phase of reconstruction of B2 were supposed to start this year, but EPS reportedly canceled the procurements worth an overall EUR 59 million, prompting suspicion the utility can’t afford the project.
EPS: The production of the equipment necessary for TENT B2 will take two years
TENT B consists of two units: B1 was commissioned in 1983 and B2 was connected to the grid in 1985. B1 underwent a major renovation last year, increasing its capacity by 20 MW to 670 MW, but both suffered two outages in December alone.
EPS told Balkan Green Energy News that it scheduled the second phase of the reconstruction of TENT B2, of 650 MW, for 2025, explaining it would take two years to produce the required equipment. The works are envisaged to last seven months and EPS will cover the costs from its own funds, according to the statement.
Second thoughts about future of TENT A1, A2
The company is having second thoughts about the project to reconstruct TENT A1 and A2 (210 MW each), which are five decades old. According to earlier plans, they were supposed to be shut down this year at the latest. In the meantime, the government and EPS decided to invest EUR 200 million to completely renovate them, increase power and extend their lifespan and subsequently install a desulfurization facility.
However, the company stalled for two years with its incomplete application for the project’s environmental impact study, so the Ministry of Mining and Energy is said to have rejected it. The endeavor also depended on an overhaul of unit A3, which was supposed to replace A1 and A2 in district heating for the town of Obrenovac during the reconstruction, but it was canceled as well.
Only standard overhauls are currently planned for TENT A1 and A2
EPS now says it is planning just standard overhauls for TENT A1 and A2 and that the usefulness of the reconstruction project is being reconsidered. Of note, the desulfurization facility for units A3-A6 was scheduled to come online in May of next year and reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 10 times. The company added works have begun on flue gas desulfurization in TENT B.
Overhauls are underway in unit A5 in thermal power plant Kolubara and TENT B1 as well as in unit A5 in hydropower plant Đerdap 1, EPS noted.
The statement highlights plans to conduct major overhauls next year at TENT A5 and coal plant Kostolac B, followed by TENT A6 in 2024. The unit will get new burners that will enable the reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions, the utility said.