Over the next 20 years, Serbia expects to invest €17 billion in renewable energy

Serbia must invest $19.6 billion (€17 billion) in renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity and solar within the next 20 years in order to take over ailing coal-fired power plants and provide sufficient supply to satisfy expanding demand, according to the nation’s energy and mining ministry.

Serbia and its neighbours, Kosovo and Bosnia, all of which are largely reliant on coal for electricity generation, are under increasing pressure to decrease their fossil fuel impact and emissions as they strive to become full members of the European Union. Serbian Vice Premier Zorana Mihajlovic said in an interview with Reuters that the country would make investments worth a minimum of about €17 billion within the next 20 years. Mihajlovic is also the country’s economic development minister.

According to Mihajlovic, the move from coal to the cleaner energy sources will take time because Serbia’s thermal power plants, which provide two-thirds of the country’s electricity, are nearing the end of their useful lives. We should be able to eliminate lignite usage by 2040 or 2050, she said, while also adding additional (producing) capacity at the same time. New hydropower, wind power and solar facilities should be built, and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic stated last month that the country was considering a share in the grown Paks nuclear power station in neighbouring Hungary, which would require approval from the European Union first.

In 1989, the now-obsolete Yugoslavia, of which Serbia was a member, enacted a ban on the construction of nuclear power plants, but this does not preclude Serbia from participating in international nuclear initiatives, according to Mihajlovic. Serbia, according to Mihajlovic, intends to increase the storage capacity of Banatski Dvor facility in the northern part of the country from about 450 million cubic meters to about 800 million cubic meters in order to ensure consistent natural gas supplies, primarily from Russia.

It also intends to begin building a fresh gas pipeline to the neighbouring country of Bulgaria, which will cost approximately 85 million euros and will diversify its gas supply. “The (future)… pipeline will enable us to connect to Azerbaijan’s gas (supply) starting in 2023, as well as to a new pipeline that will run from Israel, the East Mediterranean pipeline,” she explained.

Following a pipeline breach on Nov. 1, Bulgaria blocked the transport of the Russian natural gas to Hungary and Serbia, prompting the Serbian government to undertake emergency imports of natural gas. Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) owns a 51 percent ownership in the Banatski Dvor complex, with the remaining 49 percent held by Serbian state-owned enterprise SNK.

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