Ahmed Al Awadi, GM at Masdar EE, CA & Russia

Largest Utility-Scale Wind Project

At 158 megawatts, Čibuk 1 will be the largest utility-scale wind project in Serbia and the Western Balkans, supplying an estimated 113,000 homes and displacing more than 370 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually

Forty-two of the project’s 57 wind turbines have now been installed, along with 33 overhead cable pylons connecting the project to the electricity grid,” says Ahmed Al Awadi, Masdar’s general manager for Eastern Europe, Central Asia & Russia.

Vetroelektrane Balkana (WEBG), which is owned by Tesla Wind, has been operating in Serbia for some time. What is your assessment of the renewable energy sector in the country? In your view, what is Serbia’s clean energy potential?

The business environment for renewable energy in Serbia is encouraging and has undergone continuous improvement in recent years. Renewable energy is a credible and commercially viable alternative to some of Serbia’s ageing lignite thermal power infrastructure. Increasing renewable energy generation will help to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution, as well as increasing Serbia’s energy security. Wind energy accounts for a large majority of Serbia’s renewable energy pipeline, but the country is well positioned to benefit from both solar and wind power.

The positive market sentiment we’re now seeing has been reinforced by the introduction of an updated legislative framework catering to renewable energy. This is aligned with the Serbian Ministry of Mining and Energy’s commitment to the renewable energy sector and the new construction laws and procedures introduced by the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. These developments support the government’s ambition of advancing its clean energy goals by deploying new technologies and supporting the private sector.

Since the emergence of the renewable energy industry, Masdar has been a key player in the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions

WEBG is making a significant financial investment in Serbia, and with that there has been the creation of local jobs. Are you facing challenges in recruiting qualified workers from the Serbian labour market?

Our experience has been very positive so far. Developing a wind power project as large as Čibuk 1 demands experts with different technical backgrounds, project experience and skills. Serbia has shown that it possesses a talented and highly dedicated workforce. At Masdar, and through WEBG, we’re hoping to build on these solid foundations with our own experience of developing solar and wind projects in more than 20 countries around the world.

What are your short- and long-term business plans for the Serbian market?

Since the emergence of the renewable energy industry, Masdar has been a key player in the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions. Our deep technological understanding and broad international experience enables us to work in various regions. We maintain strong relationships across the value chain with suppliers and financiers, enhancing our ability to work with a variety of regulatory regimes and policymakers.

We share our expertise with project partners to ensure the success of our primary near-term goal – the on-time construction and delivery of Čibuk 1 in the first half of next year.

At 158 megawatts, this will be the largest utility-scale wind project in Serbia and the Western Balkans, supplying an estimated 113,000 homes and displacing more than 370 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Forty-two of the project’s 57 wind turbines are now installed, along with 33 overhead cable pylons connecting the project to the electricity grid. We’ve also just handed over the transmission infrastructure to state transmission operator EMS.

In the longer term, we’re ready to invest in future commercial renewable energy projects, in Serbia and the wider region, and are actively exploring opportunities.