Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia: SEE countries ongoing large scale new power generation capacities, investors and challenges

, News Serbia Energy

Whether the Western Balkans region will be producing sufficient electricity for covering domestic needs after 2024 will primarily depend on whether the planned projects of electricity generation capacities will be implemented.

Two extreme scenarios, which also take into account the demand level factor, envisage that, in case of a high demand and a lack of new capacities, the region will have to import electricity, whereas in the second scenario (a low demand and implementation of all existing projects), the region will have a surplus and will become an electricity exporter. On the basis of the contradictory information that has been made public, it is impossible to make more reliable predictions.

However, it is a fact that, in all countries of the region, the implementation of significant projects within the energy field is accompanied by a large number of controversies and problems – the time-consuming procedures for obtaining required permits, the high level of investments and the closing of financial structure, the unsolved property relations, the inherited issues from the past, a lack of consensus on investing in power plants using conventional fuels, the protests of environmental organizations and the local residents – and even despite the pompous announcements, the signed non-binding memorandums, and in the best case, the preparation of feasibility studies and the granting of concessions, most projects have been marking time for years.

Currently, the only thermal power plant being built within the region is the TPP Stanari in the Republic of Srpska. The power plant with the capacity of 300 MW is built by the EFT group. The investment is worth 550 million euros, the majority of which is funded from a loan of the Chinese Development Bank amounting to 350 million euros. The power plant construction should be finished at the end of 2015.

Simultaneously, there are several more projects for the construction of thermal power plants in BiH. Among them, at least two – the TPP Ugljevik 3 and the TPP Tuzla 7, are controversial to such extent that they have been declared risky and “on shaky ground”.

The project of the TPP Ugljevik (2 blocks of 300 MW each), lead by the Russian company Comsar Energy, should be the largest green-field investment in the Republic of Srpska, worth 750 million euros. However, the beginning of construction of this power plant has been postponed several times, and at this moment, the biggest problem is the Slovenian lawsuit against the Mine and Thermal Power Plant Ugljevik, by which a compensation of 700 million euros is demanded.

The project of the TPP Tuzla 7 should be implemented through a project company which is 100 percent owned by the Electric Power Industry of BiH and it is funded from a loan of the Chinese Eksim Bank. The contractor is the consortium China Ghezouba Group and the Guadung Electric Power Institute. In this project, there is concern that the budget could be exceeded, as it has recently been the case with the construction of the thermal power plant Šoštanj 6. If the costs for the TPP Tuzla 7 grew by 50 or more million euros, the project would become economically unsustainable.

When it comes to the construction of the TPP Banovići, the bids which had arrived in the tender for choosing the potential strategic partner were opened at the beginning of year, and they are undergoing evaluation.

The second project in the region that is in the implementation phase is the TPP Kostolac B3, the construction of which should begin in the second half of the year. Before this, the EPS needs to make the advance payment of 100 million dollars. In the EPS, they claim that the money has been provided but that it has not been paid because of the ongoing reorganization in this public enterprise. The new block of the thermal power plant with the capacity of 350 MW is funded from a loan of Eksim Bank and it should start operating in 2020.

Within the sphere of electricity generation, a large number of Serbian projects are listed among the projects of interest for the Energy Community, among them the TPP Nikola Tesla B3, the TPP Kolubara B, the combined cycle power plant Novi Sad as well as a large number of hydro power plants (the Upper and Middle Drina, the Ibar Hydro Power Plants and the Velika Morava). The construction of the stated thermal power capacities, particularly the TPP Kolubara B, seems unlikely at this moment.

A large project within the region which should see daylight is the TPP Pljevlja 2 in Montenegro. The most favorable Bid amounting to 338 million euros for the construction of a plant with the capacity of 245 MW was submitted by the Czech Škoda, so that the negotiations with this company are underway. The strategic partner in EPCG, A2A, opposed to this project, which is why an EPCG branch office has been established for the construction of the second block of the TPP Pljevlja, through which the financing and construction of the thermal power plant will be carried out.

Croatia, as a large electricity importer is in the most unfavorable position in the region. Experts warn that the situation is alarming because as much as 1.200 MW of installed capacity in old power plants (the TPPs Sisak, Rijeka, Plomin 1, the TPP-HP Osijek) must be decommissioned in 2020, of the total of 3.654 MW of capacity owned by HEP. At this, in the following five years, with economic recovery, an increased demand of electricity is also expected.

The negotiations between HEP and the Japanese Marubeni about the implementation of the largest energy project in Croatia, the thermal power plant Plomin C, are delayed and the contract cannot be signed before fall, although its signing has been announced for the first quarter of 2015.

Environmental associations fiercely oppose this project, warning that the electricity generated in the thermal power plant will be two times costlier than the electricity which can be found on the market and that the economic interest of the strategic partner can exist only if the electricity purchase at high prices is guaranteed by a (secret) long-term contract. They remind that coal, the “dirty energy generating product that Croatia does not have” needs to be imported for the thermal power plant to operate.

Even if all the projects in Croatia are implemented in time, this will not be sufficient to compensate for the power plants which have to be withdrawn from use in the following five years. The calculation shows that Croatia will be lacking 2.000 MW of production capacities. Even if Plomin C is commissioned in 2019, which is unlikely, its capacity will amount to 500 MW, which is the capacity that the gas power plant in Osijek should also have. If the hydro power plant Ombla is still constructed despite all the opposition, its capacity will be lower than 65 MW. , transmits

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