Serbia has a great chance of getting electricity from renewable sources, primarily from the sun and wind, according to the panelists on the (Un)utilized potential of Serbia in renewable energy, organized by the Beta news agency.
One of the important facts concerning the domestic electrical energy sector is the age of coal-fired thermal power plants.
Zoran Ilić, representative of the Ministry of Mining and Energy, reminds that the youngest thermal power plant in Serbia is over 30 years old.
“We have a set of old-timers, we can’t just arrange them, we exploit them every day, they will fail more and more often, parts will break, they will function more and more difficult.”
Also, as he adds, it is not easy to procure spare parts for such plants.
“Regardless, all repairs have been completed, the facilities will be ready for winter.”
Our needs for electricity are increasing, today we do not have enough to meet current needs, which are increasing”.
Ilić adds that the growing need for electricity is due to the rapid development of the economy, which is an increasingly large consumer.
As he assesses, Serbia must build new plants for the production of electricity, and must also save energy.
“We have already started saving through the public, private sector, households. We already have good results, we saved around 200 gigawatt hours (GWh), which is around 50 million euros.”
The goal, he adds, was to reduce electricity consumption by about 15 percent.
“We expect these results to be better, all institutions have given their plans.” From the beginning to the end of winter, we imported 15, 16, even 20 percent of electricity, when there were some special peaks in consumption.”
Ilić says that he is pleased with the situation in EPS, as far as capacity is concerned, as well as the situation regarding coal. However, he emphasizes that the good condition of EPS’s power plants does not mean that they will not fail.
“Part of the coal was imported, and now serious amounts of local coal are being mined, much more was mined than was imported”, Ilić adds.
He also says that households in Serbia can reduce electricity consumption by up to 50 percent.
The future of electricity production in Serbia is in solar energy, wind farms, hydro potential has already been used a lot.
Ilić also notes that Serbia needs at least one project each for energy storage, as well as for the production of green hydrogen.
Ilija Batas-Bjelic from the Institute of Technical Sciences SANU explains that renewable energy sources are something that is inherently variable.
“This is a historic moment for renewable energy sources.” I prefer to call those energy sources variable sources, the flexibility of the energy system is needed to accept them.”
As he emphasizes, with the current price of energy, balance comes to the fore, where all possible sources can be confronted and they can be offered equally to one energy system.
Energy efficiency should also be taken into account, and finally the structure of the energy system should be optimized.
“When you optimize that structure, then it is normal that there is a daily market for renewable energy sources where their advantage and the economic logic of marginal costs allows them to be maximally used.”
Batas-Bjelic reminds that flexibility and balancing in energy is nothing new, it was invented in the last century.
This, he adds, was also known at the time when rigid power plants like the one in Obrenovac were built, or even more rigid than them, such as the Krško nuclear power plant, which is located on the border of Slovenia and Croatia.
One of the important terms is the so-called manageable consumption of electricity, such as the recommendation to turn on water heaters in apartments and houses at night, when electricity is cheaper.
What to do with excess energy?
Surplus electricity, which occurs in production, he adds, can be offered to Seepex (a joint venture of the Public Company Elektromreža Srbije (EMS), which is the operator of the transmission system in Serbia, and the European electricity exchange EPEX SPOT) or some other exchange.
“Just imagine what an intraday energy exchange allows you, it’s all flexibility options.” An old flexibility option is a pumped-storage power plant.”
Surplus electricity from wind farms can be used to heat hot water. It is, as Batas-Bjelic states, the simplest way of converting electricity into waste water, there is no problem to convert variable energy into heat.”
Batas-Bjelic also adds that thermal power plants are often unpredictable in the production of electricity, that is, they are less predictable than solar and wind power plants.
The fact is that, as he explains, it is more difficult to mine the coal used in thermal power plants than to get electricity from the sun and wind.
The fact that the European Union recently produced a record amount of energy in this way shows how advanced renewable sources are.
Batas-Bjelic assesses that Serbia could already produce electricity in that way and, as he emphasizes, it would be in a much better position if that had happened.
He also says that manageable consumption exists in households, the economy, as well as in thermal power plants.
Representative of the company WV International Serbia, which owns wind farms in the town of Alibunar in Vojvodina, Neda Lazendić, believes that there is currently a crisis related to fossil fuels.
According to her, producers of electricity from renewable sources are currently facing problems in determining the equipment necessary for production.
This refers to the delivery of wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment.
Therefore, as he adds, it is difficult to make appropriate calculations necessary for the realization of the investment.
Branko Glavonjić, a professor at the Faculty of Forestry in Belgrade, says that the institution has already worked on energy plantation projects.
It is about growing fast-growing trees, which are later used in the production of electricity.
Those plantations, as he explains, can be raised on devastated land, such as the one in the Kolubara Mining Basin, as well as on agricultural land of poorer quality, which has been burned and is not used for food production.
According to him, such plantings only require irrigation and that on land that is not rich in groundwater.
Some such plantations already exist in RB Kulubara and, as he explains, they are progressing well.
Energy consultant, Milena Milosavljević, presented the Internet platform Solarni kalkulator, which is intended for investors in solar power generation systems.
Apart from providing information on how much these investments cost and how profitable they are, the platform also deals with motivating investors to invest in that area, Nova Ekonomija writes.