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Green energy - a generational chance for faster development and the improvement of standard of living

Green energy - a generational chance for faster development and the improvement of standard of living

We want to and have decided to go on the path of green transition and the creation of a sustainable and green energy sector. We have decided to ensure the continuity and availability of energy and energy generating products, but only in compliance with all environmental standards.

We want to and have decided to go on the path of green transition and the creation of a sustainable and green energy sector. We have decided to ensure the continuity and availability of energy and energy generating products, but only in compliance with all environmental standards.

As a state and government, we signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2017) and the Sofia Declaration on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (2020), with a vision to improve and leave a healthier environment for generations to come, and be united in that cause, all the citizens of Serbia.

Survival and progress of future generations depends on which path we now to take, because green energy is not a matter of international obligations, it unequivocally concerns each of us and defines the quality of our lives.

Cleaner, green energy means reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, i.e. cleaner air and a healthy environment, healthy land, clean rivers, clear blue skies. That means a healthy Serbia that we leave to future generations.

Giving up on the green agenda, rejecting and postponing changes, means giving up the possibility of having enough energy using our own resources. Giving up solar panels on the roofs of houses and factories, means giving up on improving the health of citizens and giving up on belonging to modern countries, and all to the detriment of current, and even more so to the detriment of future generations.

The dominant production of energy from fossil fuels, whose reserves are limited and non-renewable, will make our country an unhealthy, unsafe, insecure and isolated energy island in Europe. We will be left without the ability to respond to any energy disruption. Why would any of us want that?

Changes, such as the global energy revolution, the energy transition and the green agenda, bring about resistance and fear. However, resistance and rejection cannot change the reality in which we live, in which 56 million tons of CO2 are emitted every year. It is the polluted air that we breathe every day, it is outdated technologies that we use in thermal capacities. Do we want to leave that to future generations? The Government of Serbia does not want that for Serbia, and work to improve the standard of living for the generations to come.

The projections of the International Energy Agency indicate a 2.5-fold increase in the demand for electricity by 2050, which will be met primarily from solar energy, wind energy, hydroelectric power plants, nuclear energy and natural gas. With the growth of energy efficiency and the constant fight against climate change, the future energy sector will be structurally, developmentally and climatically completely different from today's. One third of our energy sector currently relies on HPPs and two thirds on low quality coal, which is a great challenge for us.

Unlike Serbia, which only started working on energy transition in 2021 (with the adoption of a modern legislative framework), in the EU countries, but also in the USA and China, changes have been happening for two decades and are reflected in the reduction of the share of electricity produced from coal, with simultaneous growth of production from other clean, green sources - RES.

The opportunities in the field of green energy and the use of renewable sources are huge and bring multiple benefits. Energy first - because we will soon become sufficient, thus independent and stable. Then the economic one - because the price of energy production from RES is lower, which creates an opportunity not only for additional investments in the modernization of the energy sector, but also for the improvement of the economic environment as a whole, industrial development, investment growth, technological progress. It is equally important that we prevent additional emissions and lay the foundations for a healthier environment for future generations.

 

Changing the structure of our energy mix means a faster path to achieving one of our main goals, which is complete energy independence, i.e. energy production from our own resources and capacities, without the need for imports. In order to achieve that goal, we must start implementing strategic plans which, above all, refer to new energy capacities that use renewable sources for production.

 

In the process of European integration, Serbia has made important steps, and the harmonization of the normative framework is just the beginning. We will make substantial progress when we take concrete steps in practice in all areas. However, it is not just a question of international obligations or political decisions, but a question of our current and future security and independence in energy, economic and political terms. We have secured the record economic growth and have in that regard overcome many of the EU member states. We are leaders in the number and value of foreign direct investment in the region. Given the natural resources, financial stability and the possibility of applying the latest scientific and technological achievements, there is no reason not to be an energy leader in the region.

In the last 10 years, the prices of electricity production from solar power plants have been reduced about seven times, and have almost halved when it comes to electricity production from wind power plants. Fewer and fewer countries are making investment decisions to build new thermal power plants, and international financial organizations will no longer support projects that are directly or indirectly related to dirty, fossil fuels.

Carbon dioxide emissions are being taxed in an increasing number of countries and it is only a matter of time before that will be the case in Serbia as well. The taxes in the EU today amount to around 95 euros per ton of CO2, and it can only be expected that these prices will continue to rise, creating increasing financial pressure on electricity systems that continue to rely predominantly on fossil fuel electricity production.

Our energy future is clear and can be easily determined through scientific and technological solutions and achievements of the most developed countries in the world. Using the best European and world experiences, Serbia has the opportunity to choose its path of energy development, adapted to our climate and the resources we have at our disposal, and thus ensure efficient economic progress. Although we have been in a decades-long stalemate when it comes to the development of new energy production plants, not only have the conditions to apply new technologies in Serbia been met, but it is also not too late to be innovative ourselves.

Finally, if we want Serbia to be part of Europe, the path leading to that includes, as one of the important conditions, harmonization with EU strategic directions and policies in the field of energy, which unequivocally directs Serbia towards the Green Agenda. The Green Agenda is not a brake on development, but represents a potentially new model of growth that includes new investments, new jobs, technological progress, and finding a balance between energy and economic development on the one hand, and environmental protection on the other.

There is no reason not to use the momentum and to finally decide on a healthy, secure, modern future of the energy sector with a clear strategy, on which the economic development and quality of life of all citizens depends.

Amendments to the Energy Law and the enactment of the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources, the first such law in Serbia to comply with the latest EU directives, have improved the legal basis for energy transition - a process that will enable Serbia to be part of the global decarbonisation process and ensure independence in the field of electricity.

Following the adoption of the Law on the Use of RES in April 2021, which was preceded by a wide public discussions, the following decrees were adopted which will enable the implementation of legal solutions:

· Decree on criteria, conditions and manner of calculation of receivables and payables between the producer-consumer and supplier;

· Decree on quotas for wind farms in the market premium system;

· Decree on market premium and feed-in tariff;

· Decree on the model of the market premium contract;

· Decree on merging organized day-ahead and intra-day electricity markets - ZOE (Law on Energy).

Software for electronic auctions for acquiring the right to incentives for RES power plants has also been developed.

Will we allow ourselves the luxury of looking at individual interests instead of the potential we have to develop new capacities that use renewable sources (hydropower, wind and solar power plants) or will we unanimously embark on the development and modernization of the sector and make it a driver of further economic development? By passing the new laws, the Government of Serbia has clearly decided on progress.

In addition to foreign investors, domestic companies also recognize the importance of the stability of the regulatory framework, not only for the growth of investments in the field of RES, but also for the improvement of the business environment as a whole. A large number of domestic and foreign economic entities that are already operating and planning to expand their business in Serbia have embraced the reform of the energy system and actively want to participate in it.

Citizens of Serbia also recognize the importance of using energy from RES through the installation of solar panels, which was for the first time introduced into the legal system of the Republic of Serbia through the institution of producer-consumer defined by the Law on the Use of RES. There is great interest in increasing the awareness of citizens to participate in environmental protection and energy transition through green energy.

In the new investment plan, which includes planned and potential projects in the field of mining and energy with a total value of more than 35 billion euros, RES make up more than half of the planned new energy capacities.

When it comes to hydroelectric power plants, preparatory works have begun on the construction of HPP Buk Bijela (114.45 MW) in the Republic of Srpska, and the realization of several projects for the construction of reversible hydroelectric power plants is planned. The importance of RHPP is reflected not only in the increase of total energy produced, but also in the creation of conditions for the integration of new capacities from RES with higher installed capacity. The most important RHPP projects are Djerdap 3 (with a planned capacity of 1,800 MW) and Bistrica (628 MW).

The Green Agenda is not an abstract concept, quite the contrary, it is a new model of growth that should enable every citizen of this country a better quality of life.

That is why we have created conditions for both citizens and commercial buyers to become active participants in the energy transition process, i.e. to become green energy producers by installing solar panels in suitable places in yards or on the roofs of households, housing communities and industrial facilities.

Each facility on which solar panels are installed is in one part energy independent, which achieves the ultimate goal in energy, which is greater energy security, i.e. less need for electricity imports, greater security of supply, and and lower bills for households and the economy.

The drafting of the Energy Development Strategy until 2040 with projections until 2050 and the National Integrated Plan for Climate and Energy until 2030 with projections until 2050 will determine the goals and dynamics of energy sector development in the coming decades, which will put Serbia in the category of countrie that strive for the increase of  RES in total electricity produced.

The use of RES in the energy mix of Serbia also means the use of technological innovations in the field of electric power, information and communication technologies, mechanical engineering and modernization, i.e. development on new perspective bases of companies working in the field of energy.

Energy is not just a matter of production and consumption of electricity, but it is a matter of economic and business image of a country, and energy capacities are part of critical infrastructure without which it is impossible to plan and implement economic activities.

Successful socially responsible companies in the world, primarily in the field of industry, exclusively buy energy produced from RES. Energy production from RES is becoming one of the decisive factors that attract, but also direct investors. There are many examples, from Germany (which more than doubled the total installed capacity exclusively by using RES from about 120 GW to more than 250), to the Scandinavian countries, then Spain, Portugal (nine years ago the last thermal power plant was shut down).

The construction of new capacities using renewable sources will take place in parallel with the development of the transmission and distribution electricity network, so that the development of the energy sector is sustainable, efficient, economical and leads to a higher level of energy security and safety.

With the further development of the RES sector and the decarbonisation of the energy sector, Serbia is becoming part of global trends that include finding solutions for climate-neutral energy production and environmental protection. Any delay in the production of energy from RES would mean increasing import dependence for Serbia.

Serbia's energy transition will be gradual, but secure, sustainable and efficient, and in line with established energy and environmental goals.

Achieving the goal of Serbia's energy independence as a result of using the potential of RES that we have at our disposal is realistic today and we must not miss this opportunity.