Serbia, How to ensure energy security

29.Jun 2022.

The moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants and the introduction of nuclear energy in faculty teaching at the faculties of electrical engineering, physics and mechanical engineering in Serbia should be lifted immediately.

All strategic activities in the energy sector of the Republic of Serbia should be designed to ensure the permanent fulfillment of the following three goals – reliable energy supply, stability of energy prices at an economically justified level, a reasonable level of energy independence.

One achievable, approximately optimal, concept of further development of our energy could look like this: construction of the third unit in TENT B, with a capacity of 620 megawatts (MW). This unit should be put into operation by the end of 2027 at the latest. Before construction and commissioning of TENT B3, no old thermal unit should be disconnected from the mains. One year after the commissioning of TENT B3, the successive shutdown of the first group of thermal generators, which consists of the oldest and most inefficient units with a total capacity of 970 MW, should begin.

That process should be completed by 2030. This means that TPP “Kostolac B3” was put into operation in 2023 and that it works reliably with a nominal power of 350 MW. Thus, the first part of the energy transition process in Serbia, which replaces 970 MW in old thermal generators with the same capacity in new energy-efficient and much more environmentally friendly units, would be completed.

Construction of 2100 MW in wind farms and 1900 MW in solar power plants. Not to be confused, this is not about independent production facilities in private ownership, but about power plants that should be owned by EPS. In accordance with the dynamics of construction of these power plants, the shutdown of the remaining old thermal generators in TPP “Morava”, TPP “Kolubara”, TPP “Kostolac A” and TENT A with a total installed capacity of 1257 MW should be started. This should complete the second part of the energy transition in Serbia. The process of replacing old coal production units with new power plants that use renewable energy sources should be carried out in the period from 2031 to 2040.

Construction of RHE Bistrica. Ideally, this RHE could be designed to have a total pumping capacity of 1040 MW, for example six units each with a capacity of 175 MW, and an energy storage volume of 555 GWh (gigawatt hours). It should be planned that RHE “Bistrica” ​​will start operating by the end of 2030. The second RHE, if needed, should be built by the time two-thirds of the above-mentioned capacity in wind and solar power plants is in operation.

In the hydrologically average year and with a gross consumption of 34,667 GWh as it was during 2021, the additional energy needed for pumping would be around 2856 GWh. Due to the lower capacity of RHE than the total capacity of solar power plants and wind farms, about 35 GWh of their total energy potential would be lost, which would amount to 2212 GWh from solar and 5914 GWh from wind farms. The remaining thermal generators, three in TPP “Kostolac B” and TENT B, with a total capacity of 2822 MW would produce a total of 17,521 GWh. Existing flow hydropower plants would contribute 9,207 GWh and storage hydropower plants 705 GWh. Reversible hydropower plants, including the existing RHE “Bajina Basta”, will produce a total of 1,999 GWh. Imports would not be needed, and there would be a reserve of at least 620 MW in the system. The production capacities of this structure would be sufficient to cover the needs of consumers in Serbia and in a very dry year with a 90 percent probability of inflows, only the reserve in the system would be reduced. In case of even smaller inflows, which happens once in 10 years, small imports would be needed, which is a reasonable and quite acceptable risk.

And what should we do to provide Serbia with energy security long after 2050? Construction of a nuclear power plant with an installed capacity of 3,000 MW, ie five nuclear reactors with a capacity of 600 MW each.

It should be planned that the first two of these six units will be put into operation by the end of 2050, two in 2055, and the last two in 2060. With the same dynamics, it is necessary to plan the decommissioning of the unit in TENT B and TPP “Kostolac B”. This would complete our energy transition, more or less in line with the EU Green Agreement, and with good maintenance and timely replacement of solar panels and wind turbines, our energy security would be ensured at least until the end of this century.

However, the final decision on the construction of the nuclear power plant should not be made immediately, but only in 2035, because it is reasonable to take into account that some major technological leaps may occur in the meantime. Also, it could happen that with the agreement on the normalization of relations with the Albanian authorities in Kosovo and Metohija, we get the right to use some part of the coal reserves in the Kosovo basin. As unlikely as both may be, by 2035 we can afford the luxury of following the world’s scientific and technological trends, learning and hoping. However, what we need to do immediately is lift the moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants and introduce nuclear energy in faculty teaching at electrical engineering, physics and mechanical engineering faculties in Serbia.

Of course, only the most important elements of Serbia’s energy development are listed above, those that would provide us with energy security in the long run. However, there are still a huge number of more or less important elements of development, and the most important of them is certainly the development of the transmission network in accordance with the locations and installed forces of the new power plants, Politika writes.