Serbia exclusive: Successive shutdown of old TPP facilities below 300MW, is there a back up strategy for power utility EPS?

, News Serbia Energy

Because of their scope and their cross-cutting character, harmonization with the European regulations within the field of environment is a complex and extremely expensive process for Serbian energy sector and power utility company EPS which manages the conventional lignite fired thermal power plants. The accession negotiations within this field refer to the 200 legal documents that make up as much as one third of the European regulations. According to estimates, the harmonization within this field will cost Serbia as much as 10.6 billion euros by the year 2030.

The key instrument which directs the energy policy of the countries within the region is the Treaty Establishing Energy Community, which obliges the nine countries of Southeast Europe to implement the European regulations within the sphere of energy, environmental protection, competition and renewable energy.

The preparation of the EPS’s facilities for implementing the two crucial directives, on large combustion plants and on industrial emissions, has already began and, should it continue at this pace, the EPS is expected to fulfill its obligations in time, which includes the installation of the system for desulphurization, denitrification and of high-frequency electro-filters (the projects are worth 635 million euros), but also the closedown of the blocks to which these measures will not be applied.

The Large Combustion Plants Directive (LCP) refers to the combustion facilities the capacity of which is higher or equal to 50 MW regardless of the kind of fuel used. The directive is aimed at limiting the emissions of sulfur-dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust emitted by large combustion plants. The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) consolidates the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) and six other directives, including the Large Combustion Plants Directive, replaced by the IED in the member states as of 1st January 2016.

In the National Environmental Approximation Strategy of the Republic of Serbia, there is an analysis that has shown that it is only in the year 2023 that the possibility for implementing the Large Combustion Plants Directive will exist. Because of this, in October 2013, at the Energy Community Ministerial Council, Serbia started the initiative for postponing the implementation of this directive until the year 2023. The adoption of this decision was explained by the striving for energy stability and it also entails longer transitional periods for implementing the Industrial Emissions Directive.

The postponement of the Large Combustion Plants Directive implementation has also been welcomed in the EPS. In this way, we have evaded the situation in which energy stability would be jeopardized by the withdrawal of blocks with the installed capacity below 300 MW, for which replacement facilities have not been provided, and on the other hand, there is no economic justification for applying the most recent measures for reducing harmful emissions thereon. The overall capacity of these facilities amounts to more than 1.100 megawatts.

Considering that their capacity is below 300 megawatts, the blocks A1 and A2 of the TPPNT, both blocks A of the TPP Kostolac, TPP Morava, Kolubara and Panonske Power Plants are the thermal power facilities of the EPS for which a successive withdrawal has been envisaged within the period up to 2025. Their average age amounts to more than 45 years, and their energy efficiency is below 30 percent. The average annual generation of these blocks amounts to 6.000 gigawatt-hours per year, which means that it will be necessary to provide replacement facilities in the following period.

Had the previous decision remained in force, the reduction of electricity generation from thermal power plants would amount to 10 billion kilowatt-hours in 2018, with respect to the average annual generation, and to more than seven billion kilowatt-hours in 2019 – considering that the blocks smaller than 300 megawatts would have to be shut down, as well as the TPPNT B in which the desulfurization system would not have been finished.

The possibility of the “OPT-AUT“ mechanism has also been introduced, which enables the use of 20.000 operating hours within the period from 2018 to 2023 for the blocks in which the application of protective measures has not been envisaged, with the possibility of their being put back into operation after being brought into conformity with the Industrial Emissions Directive.