Serbia’s energy market in brief – challenges and expectations ahead
World events and the current energy crisis have once again demonstrated the imperative for the continued development of the energy sector and its modernization, which is both time-consuming and financially burdensome, but inevitable for the sustainability of the energy sector. economy and society as a whole. He further underlined the real need for an equal or nearly equal level of development of the electricity, gas and oil sector and of an increased dynamic development of the renewable energy market and, the imperative to have a firm orientation towards diversification and the establishment of different routes and different sources of supply. It is necessary to have a long-term strategic determination for stability and security of supply and a national strategic plan to achieve this.
With regard to natural gas, the Republic of Serbia is entirely dependent on natural gas from the Russian Federation, with less than 10% of Serbia’s needs being met by domestic natural gas production.
Aware of this fact and oriented towards the long-term stability and security of natural gas supply, the Republic of Serbia has since 2017 been oriented towards the implementation of several parallel projects, such as – (i) the construction of a 402 km long interconnector (Serbian section of the so-called “Turkish Stream”, also recognized as a “Balkans Stream”), aimed at ensuring a different route of natural gas supply (other than that of the Hungary which was the only supply route for decades) and a future progressive supply route access to potentially different sources of supply, the project of which was completed in 2021, (ii) the expansion of capacities of natural gas storage in the Republic of Serbia, still in progress, (iii) the construction of a new natural gas interconnection Serbia – Bulgaria (Niš – Dimitrovgrad Gasoline) (also called “IBS interconnection”), financed by funds I AP and an EIB loan, was to be completed by the end of 2023.
All of these natural gas projects aim to ensure the stability and security of natural gas supply, creating additional supply routes and expanded storage facilities that could alleviate the gas crisis caused by supply shortages. in natural gas and ensure the operations of industry and households for a certain time, until the supply chain is restored. They also have potential for diversification of supply sources and, in the future, possible connections with the TAP and TANAP gas pipelines (Southern Gas Corridor) and access to natural gas from LNG terminals in Greece and Croatia.
On the other hand, the current production of electrical energy still does not provide the expected level of safety and requires significant investment in the construction of new infrastructures, as well as in the modernization of existing premises and their homogenization. This should go hand in hand with the further development of the transmission and distribution system and their alignment with the production system.
In line with the obligations undertaken at the international level, the Republic of Serbia has significantly improved its legislative framework and enacted new laws, mainly in the sector of renewable energy sources, all aimed at boosting this relatively neglected sector. Despite the fact that projects aimed at facilitating the production of energy from renewable sources began some time ago, at first with the construction of small hydroelectric power stations, and later with the construction of wind farms, solar parks and premises based on the use of biomass, this is still not enough, both to ensure energy stability and to ensure compliance with the international obligations entered into. The green agenda, initiatives to switch to the green economy and reduce coal consumption, decarbonisation and the use of less carbon-intensive fuels, in parallel with the orientation towards the circular economy, depollution, protection of nature and biodiversity would be a driving force for the future development of the Republic of Serbia.
Serbia’s orientation towards greater independence with regard to energy supply sources and different supply routes, with regard to energy, goes hand in hand with the construction of new infrastructures, guaranteeing better connectivity and mobility – an essential precondition for FDI, as the Serbian economy is largely dependent on FDI, with the key factor in deciding where to invest being determined by the price of the investment (directly preconditioned, among others, by the price of energy consumed for operations), good infrastructure connectivity and logistics. Therefore, the development of the energy sector is not an imperative in itself, but it is a long-term driver of the Serbian economy and society.
At present, it is very difficult to predict future developments. Like all parties facing the same challenges, the Republic of Serbia is looking for alternatives and trying to circumvent pitfalls in a quick and cost-effective way. The task has never been more complicated and demanding because now is the time for a long-term strategic orientation, in which limited alternatives are currently at hand and time is running out.
It seems that the urgency to make problem-solving choices will temporarily put some big initiatives on hold that cannot generate enough energy, as needed at present and, should be focused on priorities that are often not not environmentally friendly.