Renewables get increasing role in district heating in Serbia

Date: 29/04/2021

Soon there will be no heating oil nor coal in the production of heat in Serbia as the government and local authorities are turning to cleaner energy and the expansion of the district heating network. The Ministry of Mining and Energy intends to utilize the potential of renewables, particularly with solar thermal systems, and EBRD vowed to provide support.

There are few biomass-fueled heating plants in Serbia, with the exception of smaller boilers that mostly serve public buildings, and a small number of projects and plants under construction. The situation may change with the cooperation of the Ministry of Mining and Energy with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is developing solar thermal systems and projects with heating pumps, geothermal energy, waste heat, biogas and the energy of seas, lakes, and rivers.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlović recently had a meeting with new EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso and signed a memorandum of understanding with the lender with the aim of improving air quality, promoting the use of renewable energy sources for the production and distribution of thermal energy in Serbia and increasing energy efficiency.

Energy sector decarbonization
“Serbia is a country in energy transition, which entails, inter alia, increasing energy efficiency and investing more in renewable energy sources, which are preconditions to decarbonize the energy sector and turn to climate neutral development. EBRD’s support is important with regard to activities being taken in the area of heating, where there is also substantial room for reducing irrational consumption of heating energy, and for district heating systems to start using more renewables,” the ministry said.

Only one larger heating plant, the one in Knjaževac in eastern Serbia, utilizes biomass as a basic source of energy. Within a program conducted by Germany’s KfW Development Bank, plants in Priboj and Mali Zvornik are under construction, and this year works will start on building another one, in Novi Pazar. Serbia is gradually phasing out coal and heating oil in district heating and introducing other sources.

The ministry revealed it plans to support local authorities in using solar energy and biomass in district heating systems. At the meeting, Mihajlović said there is room to continue the cooperation and pointed to opportunities in projects for mid-sized and large hydropower plants, photovoltaic facilities and wind parks.

Step further in greening Serbia’s economy
EBRD is working on the decarbonization of district heating and cooling systems through its Renewable District Energy in the Western Balkans (ReDEWeB) fund. Supporting green economy and improving energy efficiency is one of the bank’s key priorities in Serbia – it is providing finance for green investments and policy advisory service to the authorities to help create the right regulatory environment, Principal Fund Manager for Renewable District Energy in the Western Balkans Bojan Bogdanović told Balkan Green Energy News.

“We are now going a step further towards greening Serbian economy and will support the country to introduce renewable energy in its district heating systems. By signing this memorandum with the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia the two organizations commit to work together towards three main objectives: introducing renewable energy sources for district heating systems, improving energy efficiency in district heating systems and improving regulatory framework at state and local level,” he said.