Using its own funds and with the help of international financial institutions and agencies, the Electric Power Industry of Serbia has reconstructed plants intensively and improved environmental protection since 2000, in an effort to attain the standards applicable in the European Union. This is a long road that must be traversed patiently and thoroughly because even though 200 million euros has been invested in the last few years, the current level of emissions of certain pollutants into the atmosphere is higher than stipulated in the EU.
However, it is important to note that during the period when thermal power plants were built in Serbia there were no regulations on environmental protection at the current level, so it is inevitable that the level of emissions of air pollutants is now higher than the maximum stipulated in the EU.
Our obligation and responsibility require that the environmental protection is included as an important part of the development strategy and operation of the “Electric Power Industry of Serbia”, and for that are planned investments of around a billion euros for the period 2015 – 2025. The most important projects are aimed at reducing emissions of air pollutants from power plants, including dust particles, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
For us, this goal is equally as important as electricity production, because two-thirds of the energy produced in the Republic of Serbia is generated using coal at EPS’s thermal power plants. The main tool in the protection of air quality is represented by the reconstruction of electrostatic precipitators and the installation of modern filters for separating particulate matter from the flue gas, as well as the construction of flue gas desulphurisation plants.
Air, water, earth
The first reconstruction of electrostatic precipitators was carried out at unit A5 in TENT A. That was the first project of its kind in Serbia, and the lessons learned were valuable for the reconstruction of other thermal power plants. Such works were subsequently performed on all units of TENT A, TENT B, TPP “Kostolac A”, TPP “Kostolac B”, TPP “Morava” and unit A5 of TPP “Kolubara”. Following the completion of works in 2016, we will fully meet the requirements of the EU directive on large combustion plants.
We have completed the construction of a 177-metre-high chimney, which belongs to the system for flue gas desulphurisation in thermal power plant “Kostolac B”, while works are underway on the construction of the desulphurisation plant at TPP “Nikola Tesla” A and B.
Our obligation and responsibility require that the environmental protection is included as an important part of the development strategy and operation of the “Electric Power Industry of Serbia
Likewise, the adjustment and optimisation of the operations of the boiler to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides from the flue gas at the units A3 and A5 in TENT A has been completed, as well as at unit B1 in TPP “Kostolac B”, and the introduction of the same measures to units A4 and A6 in TENT A, B1 and B2 in TENT B, B2 of TPP “Kostolac B” and A2 in TPP “Kostolac A” has been also planned.
When it comes to water, the greatest environmental challenges are certainly wastewater and sludge, ponds and erosion of existing reservoirs and riverbank areas around hydropower facilities. Thus, the projects are focused on the construction of wastewater treatment plants, the protection of reservoirs and coastal areas during the construction of new hydropower facilities and the rehabilitation and revitalisation of existing hydropower plants.
The implementation of a project for construction of wastewater treatment plants in TENT A and TENT B is underway, followed by preparation of the project for construction of a wastewater treatment plant in TPP “Kostolac B”, while construction of a purification plant for muddy wastewater and water containing oil and crude oil at TPP-CHP “Sremska Mitrovica” has been completed.
A research study on degradation processes in the reservoirs of hydropower plants “Djerdap 1” and “Djerdap 2” and in the reservoirs of the River Drina has been conducted, with mandatory and constant monitoring of the participation of these reservoirs in the overall pollution of the Danube and Drina rivers. A database has been created to monitor stability in the zone of hydropower plants and in this way all the instability in the accumulation zone can be registered. Landslides are categorised from the 1st to the 4th category and, depending on the category, a programme of periodic observation or detailed researches is being conducted.
Mechanisms for waste management are used to prevent waste generation and to promote recycling and usage of waste as an energy source, as well as the development of disposal methods.
When it comes to soil protection, projects are aimed primarily at the application of new technologies for the collection, transport and disposal of ash and slag and, of course, land reclamation.
Harmonising with European standards
The strategic directions of development of the energy sector of the Republic of Serbia, defined by the Energy Development Strategy of the Republic of Serbia until 2025, with projections to 2030, are primarily based on the ensuring of energy security, in compliance with all environmental standards, including the fulfilment of international obligations (Treaty establishing the Energy Community). Taking into account the complexity of the imperative of ensuring the state’s energy security, a very important role is played by relying on domestic resources for electricity production. That’s why activities aimed at harmonising the work of existing plants with all relevant EU requirements represent a priority goal for EPS.
When we consider the situation regarding EPS’ thermal power plants, we must also bear in mind that they were built at a time when there were fewer demands for environmental protection, which were not as rigorous as they are nowadays. The EU Member States had launched activities aimed at improving the work of their electric power plants by the early 1990s, whilst EPS has started the same activities after 2000.
Mechanisms for waste management are used to prevent waste generation and to promote recycling and usage of waste as an energy source, as well as the development of disposal methods
The countries of the EU have achieved a reduction in emissions of air pollutants using measures and activities during a twenty-year period, while EPS will – regardless of the year of Serbia’s accession to the EU –reduce its specific emissions to the level prescribed by EU Directives (even below) in the following seven years, which will contribute to a significant reduction of the total emissions of the Republic of Serbia. The effects of measures that will be applied by EPS until 2026 imply emission reductions of NOx for 45.93%, then SO2 for 92.25%, as well as 83.72% of dust particles.
In accordance with the obligations taken on within the framework of the Energy Community, in December 2015, Serbia has submitted to the Secretariat of the Energy Community a preliminary National Emission Reduction Plan (NERP) and the preliminary list of plants that will use the “opt-out” mechanism. This mechanism involves the limited operation of plants – 20,000 hours of operation for the period 2018 – 2023. After that period, the plant is either closed down or its emission must be harmonized with the values of emissions for new plants. It has been already prescribed duty for new plants built after 2018 to have airborne emissions that are in accordance with the strictest limited values of the Industrial Emissions Directive.
In the following period, it is expected Chapter 27 to be opened, which refers to EU regulations on environmental protection and climate changes. During this process, deadlines for complete harmonization of EPS’ plants’ operations with relevant provisions of European legislation in the field of environmental protection and climate change will be defined.
In the following period, there will be activities on the development of the Negotiating position, based on the results of the final version of the Implementation plan for specific directives of the Directive on Industrial Emissions. Serbia will then propose specific transitional deadlines for the implementation of the Directive on Industrial Emissions for each plant separately.
Investments leading to the “clean” energy
EPS is faced with a period of significant investments in environment protection measures, which represent a challenge not only in financial terms but also in a technical sense, bearing in mind the complexity and deadlines for the implementation of the planned projects.
These investments will enable the EPS’ development, with the increase of its competitiveness and the efficient use of natural resources, especially renewable energy resources, because there is a clear goal – the efficient and the “cleanest” possible energy production and distribution.