The key to improving the complex system of public enterprise Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS) is represented by investments in the modernisation of capacity and new projects. EPS investments reached almost half a billion euros in 2020 alone, while its development projects over the last five years were worth approximately two billion euros
A series of EPS investments that were previously launched continued to be implemented in 2021, while completely new projects are set to commence soon. EPS’s focus also includes hydro projects, thereby addressing obligations to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the country’s energy mix.
On 17th May in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, near Foča, a new foundation stone was laid for the Buk Bijela Hydro Power Plant on the River Drina, which represents an example of EPS’s new investment projects.
“Together with Electric Power Industry of Republika Srpska (ERS), after decades of waiting for this project, EPS is participating in the construction of three new HPPs, with a capacity of 211 megawatts, as a foreign investor with 51 per cent ownership of company HES Gornja Drina. This investment of 520 million euros will bring green kilowatt-hours and increase the energy security of both Serbia and Republika Srpska,” say EPS officials.
“The project has been prepared thoroughly, with respect for legal and technical procedures, domestic laws and international standards. The idea that has been discussed for more than 40 years is now finally being put into motion. The plan is for HPP Buk Bijela to generate power of between 93.5 and 114.5 MW, with projected annual production of up to 355 million kilowatt-hours. The laying of the foundation stone marked the start of preparatory works on the construction of this hydro power plant, in which EPS and ERS will jointly invest around 250 million euros, proportionate to their respective ownership stakes of 51 and 49 per cent in HES Gornja Drina.
According to the assessment of Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, “Construction of HPP Buk Bijela on the Drina represents a fresh start for the relations between Serbia and Republika Srpska but also for the entire region and shows how to work together in the interest of future generations for whom borders will not affect jobs, capital, projects nor survival. This is a project that opens many doors and creates many possibilities. The construction of HPPs Buk Bijela, Foča and Paunci contributes to sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental protection”.
Generating green energy is a part of a century-long tradition of EPS, and green energy is today generated at 15 hydroelectric power plants with a capacity of 3,015 megawatts, which is 38 per cent of EPS’s energy potential. The modernisation of existing hydro capacities is continuing. With the generation unit revitalization, the power generated by the largest hydro power plant in Serbia, Đerdap 1, will be increased by approximately 10 per cent, whilst also extending its lifetime for 40 years. The plan is for works on the final, sixth phase to commence this year. Following completion of the revitalisation of the last generator, EPS’s pearl on the Danube will produce clean, “green” electricity with a capacity of 1,140 megawatts. Total investments in this project will exceed 180 million euros. The next job will be the revitalisation of all 10 generators at HPP Đerdap 2, which will increase the power output by around 50 megawatts. The modernization of the navigation lock at Đerdap 1 HPP is currently ongoing, while preparations have also commenced for the renovation of the lock at HPP Đerdap 2. Both projects are being implemented with the help of the EU and have a combined value of 60 million euros.
EPS also isn’t lagging behind when it comes to projects related to wind and solar energy. Preparations are underway for the construction of the first EPS wind farm, with a capacity of 66 megawatts, in Kostolac. The project is worth around 100 million euros, with a total of 20 wind generators to be mounted on the closed cast mines and damp sites of Kostolac TPPs-OCMs. This wind farm is expected to produce about 150 million kilowatt-hours annually, which is sufficient to supply about 30,000 households.
There is also a plan to build a 9.95 MW solar power plant covering an area of about 15 hectares on the landfill site of the former Ćirikovac Mine, near the settlement of Petka. The project has an estimated value of around 11 million euros, while the completed photovoltaic power plant will produce around 12.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Also ongoing is development of the project to construct a larger solar power plant, with a capacity of 97.2 megawatts, on the existing ash and slag dump of Srednje Kostlačko Ostrvo.
EPS is also considering other new projects, such as the possibility of building solar power plants on the ash dumps of TPPs Morava and Kolubara. The company has announced a tender for analysing conditions for the construction of these two solar power plants with a capacity of 9.9 megawatts each.
Ever more development and strategic projects represent good news, not only for the largest energy company in Serbia, but also for the domestic economy and the large number of Serbian companies that are engaged in the implementation of these EPS investment projects. Domestic companies are participating in the implementation of works worth 120 million euros just on the single project to construct the desulphurisation plant at TPP Nikola Tesla B, which is worth 210 million euros.
“EPS doesn’t only strengthen the national economy with its revenue generated and payments made to the state budget, but is also the country’s largest employer, not only in terms of the number of employees, but also because it engages the whole of the Serbian mechanical engineering sector and supporting companies that work on overhauls and provide spare parts,” says Jelica Putniković, analyst and editor of the Energija Balkana portal. “Without EPS, or without coal mines, thermal power plants and hydro power plants, most of these companies would be left without work. The idea of shutting down thermal power plants and mines would have the direct consequence of around 17,000 EPS employees losing their jobs, while many more would be indirectly left jobless, because about 45,000 people are engaged annually through construction companies.”
According to EPS statistics, around 150 domestic companies from the mechanical engineering, electrical and construction sectors work for EPS’s thermal and mining sector, with about 200 million euros a year going to those companies. Local companies participate in all EPS projects. This is very important for the growth of the domestic economy, because EPS has a direct impact on GDP growth totalling three percent at the annual level, while contributing another three per cent indirectly, through the construction sector and other branches. Thanks to the production of electricity from all resources and the implementation of environmental protection projects, EPS is creating a sustainable energy balance that ensures the significant competitiveness of the Serbian economy.
ZelEPS FOR THOSE WHO ACT RESPONSIBLY TOWARDS THE ENVIRONMENT
Environmental protection and increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the electricity generation mix are important parts of the EPS strategy. Two years ago, EPS started its pioneering sales of “green” energy to customers on the free market. That is the energy generated at the hydro power plants of EPS,, with every kilowatt-hour from the ZelEPS package having a guarantee of origin. “Green” energy sold in 2020 with a guarantee of origin was ten times higher than the amount sold in 2019.