Serbia targets 8.3 GW of solar by 2024 – pv magazine International
Serbia is responding to European pressure to accelerate its energy transition to cleaner fuels by allocating 12 billion euros for wind, photovoltaic and hydropower installations over the next two years. So far, there has been little progress in the country, but some regulatory frameworks have been improved.
Serbia’s draft economic reform program for the period 2022-24 sets out a bold vision for the development of renewable energy, with targets of 8.3 GW of solar capacity and 3 GW of wind capacity. The draft is prepared annually by the Serbian Ministry of Finance for consideration by the European Union and as part of the country’s arduous road to bloc membership.
Within the framework of the 17 billion euros (19.2 billion dollars) of investments for the energy and mining sector, 12 billion euros will be reserved for wind farms, photovoltaic plants and hydroelectric installations. Large-scale PV projects could be built on 200,000 hectares of neglected, low-value farmland that can accommodate 2 GW of solar power, according to the project. As part of this plan, a cooperation agreement was signed in August 2021 between the Serbian Ministry of Mines and Energy and Chicago-based UGT Renewables for the construction of 1 GW of solar power covering more than 2 000 hectares on a dozen sites.
The project also provides for the construction of around 300 MW of photovoltaic power plants, worth 200 million euros, on land owned by the public electricity company EPS, mainly on its coal ash landfills. Last year, the utility announced a call for tenders to analyze the conditions for the construction of two solar power plants with a capacity of 9.9 MW each at the ash landfills of the Morava and Kolubara TPPs. EPS previously unveiled plans to build a 9.95 MW solar panel at the landfill site of the old Cirkovac mine and a 97.2 MW photovoltaic power plant on an existing ash and slag landfill owned by Srednje Kostlačko Ostrvo. However, little progress has been made on these projects, even though they have been discussed for a long time.
Most of the solar capacity envisioned in the 2022-24 project is expected to come from rooftop photovoltaics. Last year, Serbia started promoting prosumer concepts and identified 600 square kilometers of roofs suitable for installing solar panels. According to the project, the installation of PV on 10% of these surfaces would be equivalent to 6 GW of installed capacity and an annual production of 7 TWh, or about 20% of the total energy production of the country. The total installed capacity of public projects would thus amount to 8.3 GW deployed to the tune of 6.2 billion euros, specifies the project.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, Serbia had an installed photovoltaic capacity of 29 MW at the end of 2020. About 10 MW of this installed capacity comes from an expired feed-in tariff scheme, which granted tariffs ranging from € 0.124 to € 0.146 / kWh for rooftop photovoltaic panels, depending on the size of the system, and € 0.09 / kWh for ground installations, all within the framework of electricity purchase contracts of 12 years.
“The solar sector in Serbia has been a major failure so far,” said Marijan Rancic, director of business development at New Energy Solutions and member of the Association of Renewable Energy Sources of Serbia. pv magazine. He underlined the cumbersome red tape around rooftop photovoltaic installations and the lack of access to financing.
Last year, Serbia introduced the long-awaited Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources, the country’s first law intended to facilitate the deployment of renewable energy in the country. The law envisages auction market premiums and feed-in tariffs only for certain small projects (such as those with a capacity of less than 500 kW and less than 3 MW for wind projects) and demonstration projects, and introduces the long awaited legal framework for prosumers.
To take advantage of the net metering scheme, which will allow households and businesses to sell excess electricity to the utility EPS, Serbia announced rebates last August, covering up to 50% of the cost of installation and deployment. photovoltaics on the roofs. Under the new regulations, EPS will be required to connect a PV system within five days after its owner obtains connection approval.
“We anticipate that in the next few years we will have a rooftop photovoltaic boom as the prosumer model becomes more simplified in practice,” Rancic said, adding that this particularly applies to the C&I market segment. “This will shake things up and permanently reshape the energy sector in Serbia in favor of solar.”
On the utility front, however, things don’t look so bright.
“While there appears to be more predictability in primary legislation than before, in terms of balancing responsibilities for large-scale solar projects, we still have work to do that will determine the bankability of the future framework,”, Rancic said, noting that agricultural land use and grid issues were the main obstacles to the deployment of photovoltaics.
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