Serbia: EPS surmounted floods – overhauls and new capacities required

10. June 2014. / News Serbia Energy

With a help of rescuers, EPS managed to prevent the collapse of electric power system and, despite the rainy tsunami that hit Serbia, there were no power cuts and blackouts; however, as soon as rain stops it is necessary to immediately revive the production of coal mines, rehabilitate interrupted thermal aggregates, fix the transmission network destroyed by flooding and undertake the overhaul of the entire system, so that it will be prepared for the coming winter. On the other hand, the Serbian government as a sole owner of EPS should take into consideration its potential and all benefits that the Serbian economy could reap from the construction of new energy production capacities within EPS.

Although rescuers have been working around the clock, floods still threaten the mines and thermal power plants in Serbia. The situation in Kostolac remains critical due to swollen Mlava river, but TPP Kostolac B and open pit mine Drmno are in operation. As regards TENT system of thermal power plants, electricity is currently produced in one unit of TPP Nikola Tesla B and TPP Morava. TPP Nikola Tesla A is “out of action” because it is “surrounded” by the water from Sava and Kolubara, but EPS announces that this power plant could start producing a “technical minimum” of electricity as early as Saturday.

The problem is that the reserves of coal at the stockpiles of thermal power plants Nikola Tesla A and B in Obrenovac are enough only for ten-day production, while some open pit mines within Kolubara mining basin were turned into lakes and it may take from two months to even a year to put them back in operation.

We still do not know all the consequences of the disaster, but it is clear that EPS will have to deal with serious repairs of the electric power system.

Given the foregoing, we should pay tribute to the rescuers who have been defending power plants and have already started with pumping water from mines, as well as to all employees of EPS who, despite the serious problems with production capacities, put immense efforts into preserving the electric power system from falling apart, took preventive measures by disconnecting flooded areas from the network and who, once the water is gone, will have to carry out repairs and re-connect all consumers to the network.

Thanks to emergency loans and electricity imports EPS managed to overcome the whole situation without frequent power cuts that had seemed inevitable. It should be stated that the management of EPS handled the emergency situation quite rationally. They decided not to put in operation Panonske TPP HP since the production from this source would have been at least twice as costly as imported electricity, and opted for importing electricity instead, mainly from neighboring countries (primarily from the Republic of Srpska) at the price of EUR 35-40 per megawatt hour. Their decision not to buy expensive electricity from traders, who did not show understanding for the case of emergency purchase and set a price of EUR 80 per megawatt hour, is also notheworthy.

One should not forget the contribution of “Elektromreza Srbije” that worked together with EPS in preventing the breakdown of the electric power system of Serbia.

The natural disaster has forced newly appointed members of the Serbian government to take an immediate action and assume the responsibilities faster than they had previously planned. As soon as water withdraws, the Serbian government must do everything to ensure a full operation of all capacities of EPS. It should be done at any cost because in the forthcoming winter we may run out of gas from Ukraine. Then the burning issue will be whether the production capacities of EPS that did not undergo complete overhauls last year and had a late start of overhauls this year will be able to produce enough electricity for all consumers who will need this type of energy for heating. The existing system of EPS should be overhauled regardless of costs so that it could produce enough electricity which is very marketable commodity for export. This investment will certainly pay off and bring prosperity to the Serbian economy that looks devastated after the rainy tsunami.

The Serbian government, as owner of EPS should also tackle the issue that no new thermal power plant has been built in Serbia for three decades now, given that various lobbies were trying to at least slow down, if not to prevent the construction of new thermal power capacities. If the construction of a new unit in Kostolac had been completed by now, instead of still waiting for the agreement with the Chinese partner to be “officially approved”, Serbia would not have had to fear the upcoming winter.

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