“In a world affected by climate change, Serbia will need to speed up its transition to alternative, low carbon sources of energy”, says Nikola Ćatović of German consulting company MACS Energy & Water
The State must create adequate conditions for the private sector, including banks, to bear the investments at their own risk. We hope that all required efforts and synergies will be used to set in place a working system, both in commercial and environmental terms, says Mr Ćatović.
Your consultancy is providing services not only in Serbia and the region, but also worldwide. Who are your clients?
– MACS Energy & Water is an international consulting company headquartered in Germany and with several offices around the world. Our main clients are financial institutions that we support in sustainable financing, with our competencies covering energy efficiency, renewable energy and water and sanitation.
What is your view on our potential in renewable energy resources (RES)? What would be the areas to prioritise for investments: hydro, wind, solar?
– In a world affected by climate change, Serbia will need to speed up its transition to alternative, low carbon sources of energy. At this moment, more than 60 per cent of our energy comes from fossil fuels.
However, the potential for renewable energy investments needs to be assessed carefully from different perspectives. We have a situation that in the past related to the generation of energy being what mattered the most. Thus, many renewable energy projects were developed without much thinking regarding the negative impacts of these investments. These projects were recently in the spotlight with respect to their negative impact on the environment and the community. People today better understand that “green” energy might also lead to some negative impacts on the environment.
In our work we always emphasise the importance of a broader outlook to identify potential negative impacts that such projects could have on the environment and on communities living close to those areas. We underline the need for adequate measures that mitigate environmental and social risks effectively.
In a recent discussion with a banker over a project, I heard him say: “For us, as a bank, it is equally important to go for this project as it is not to go for it in the case that it will harm the environment“. This was a very comforting statement for us, meaning that our work has already contributed within the Serbian banking community to a positive shift for our environment and our future.
Is our administration, including all governments of the last 15-20 years, aware of the importance of RES? What are your takeaways comparing the institutional framework and the situation on ground?
– Since 2009, when the legal framework for renewable energy projects introduced the incentive scheme in the form of feed-in tariffs, more than 270 projects have been implemented, with a cumulative installed capacity of 530MW. With several wind parks currently under construction, that total will reach close to 700MW of renewable sources, which is around 10 per cent of the nominal installed power in Serbia. So, yes, it is possible to invest in renewable energy projects in Serbia and have them running. However, even with these results, the country is still far from meeting the commitments it gave in the framework of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees. As in many other countries, policymakers in Serbia run the risk of losing the battle due to short-sightedness and slowness.