Wednesday, October 20

Energy Crisis Pushes Serbia to Keep Coal Power, President Says


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(Bloomberg) — Serbia won’t phase out coal-fired power plants anytime soon as it needs them to deal with the current energy crunch, President Aleksandar Vucic said, defying European pressure to speed up its energy transition to cleaner fuels.

More than two-thirds of Serbia’s annual production of 35 terrawatt-hours comes from thermal plants, while the rest stems mostly from hydro- and wind-powered facilities. Serbia needs to reduce emissions to meet requirements for joining the European Union. The nation’s aging thermal plants are fueled by lignite, the dirtiest type of coal.

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The recent surge in energy prices is hurting industrial production and preventing the country from giving up on coal-fired plants, Vucic told reporters Saturday in the capital, Belgrade.

“We actually need to secure much bigger amounts of power in order to have full energy security,” he said. “We were smart not to destroy our resources,” such as the Communist-era Kolubara and Kostolac plants and their open-pit mines , he said.

Serbia needs to ramp up its total installed capacity of 8,280 megawatts by at least 15%, rather than allow any decline in power production amid growing demand, Vucic said. Major renewables projects include the Djerdap 3 hydro-powered plant on the Danube river, he said.

Still, price pressures in the region are expected to ease, said Vucic, with the dominant state-owned Elektroprivreda Srbije planning to reconnect its 650-megawatt unit at Nikola Tesla on Dec. 15 after completing maintenance work.

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