Elektrovat is a local Serbian company that is commemorating three decades of successful operations and 10 years of continuous investment in the production of electricity from renewable sources. It has constructed two small hydro-power plants and one solar power plant, which enables them to contribute more than nine-gigawatt hours of electricity to the system annually
The energy and money that have been meaninglessly wasted disputing the construction of small hydropower plants (SHPs) and additionally agitating the public could be utilised beneficially to promote the idea of energy efficiency through a positive campaign. The benefit would be disproportionately greater for all of us ~ Rade Milekić.
The year that’s coming to a close has been marked by tumultuous public debates, clashes and incidents in villages where small hydro-power plants are being built. How do you view all of this? Where are the relevant authorities in this whole story?
– The field of renewable energy is one of the few in which a strategy has been adopted at the national level and a whole set of laws and by-laws governing its implementation has been adopted. And instead of this field being improved and implemented in a legal way, a fierce destructive campaign of manipulating the truth is underway. A grain of truth is used to develop a bombastic populist tale with vile and hidden objectives that are hidden to most of the public. The government does not advertise itself, as though it’s ashamed of its energy development strategies, adopted laws and regulations.
Implementing the construction of SHPs is, in practise, left to the mercy and mercilessness of local self-governments, public enterprises and inspection bodies who do not want to properly understand the strategy of the state, or rather the importance of constructing SHPs for the whole society, including themselves. They only see SHPs as additional work, as the looting of the state’s resources by individuals or interest groups, and something in which they do not see themselves. That’s why most of them try to prevent the construction of SHPs, or at least to make the work as difficult as possible. And the Government remains silent on that.
Our institutions don’t protect acts that they have themselves enacted, rather they leave “rebellious people” and the builders of small power plants to come to blows
What’s actually the truth about generating electricity from hydro potential and other renewables?
– Electricity cannot be produced without consequences for the environment. That’s why we have to compromise and find a way to get as much electricity as we need and for that to have the least possible consequences for nature. In this sense, small hydro-power plants are certainly not enough, but they are the most acceptable part of the overall solution.
Countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia have used more than 90 per cent of their available hydro-power potential for the construction of SHPs, but nobody there thinks that the construction of hydroelectric power plants will ruin rivers and lead to ecological catastrophe. If our country was ready to implement its energy development strategy and take care of environmental protection, there would be none of this. Unscrupulous investors would be subjected to the penalties they deserved, government officials would suffer the consequences if they violated the rules of service and ecological issues would not be raised in the wrong way and in the wrong place.
What are your future plans for generating electricity?
– We began dealing more seriously with the use of renewable energy in 2008. The current general atmosphere, which is created by the Government, institutions and especially by public companies tasked with constructing SHPs, is unacceptably bad and chaotic, so investing under such circumstances is extremely risky and unthinkable. If conditions are fixed, we will continue activities in this area.
The aspect of rational consumption and reducing electricity losses is actually also important to us, and is something we are working on intensively. With the building and reconstructing of our business facilities, we have proven to ourselves and others how energy efficiency is an exact thing and what benefits it provides.