Coal-fired power generation has no future, no matter how much proponents of coal-fired power plants have called for security of supply and the problem of balancing variable production from renewable energy sources (RES) of wind and solar, said Nikola Rajakovic, president of the Serbian Energy Association. renewable sources, together with measures to increase energy efficiency and decarbonise energy production and consumption, are the backbone of the energy transition and the commitments Serbia has made by joining the Energy Community and accepting climate agreements, “Professor Rajakovic told Beta about the energy crisis and energy transition in Serbia. .
According to him, modern societies are based on digitalization and the Internet as the keys to communication and management, and in the near future will be based on solar and wind energy and in the near future, digital mobility of autonomous electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles.
“The energy sector is one of the most important industries in Serbia, and the concept of today’s energy in Serbia is still based on the economic paradigm of the 1970s, characterized by energy-intensive and inefficient energy use in the heating, transport and final electricity sectors.” said Rajakovic.
In the production of electricity, Serbia, as he stated, mainly relies on low-efficiency lignite thermal power plants, so the energy sector is the main polluter of air, water and soil and endangers the environment and human health.
According to him, the energy sector in Serbia has a dominant impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with over 70 percent share in total emissions.
Today’s energy infrastructure, both in Serbia and in the region, definitely cannot, he believes, meet the requirements of sustainable development in the 21st century, and the risks of climate change for sustainable development in Serbia are obvious and threaten to threaten energy and other infrastructure, agricultural production, availability water and public health.
“The functioning of the electricity system (EES) in the modern conditions of a liberalized market with the introduction of competition and the formation of electricity prices at an economically sustainable level is definitely a precondition for the energy transition,” Rajakovic said.
He pointed out that “it is clear that energy policy and energy crossroads have been one of the key issues of modern civilization for decades.”
The complexity of the challenges facing energy today is, as he said, such that it requires even more thoughtful teamwork and regional connectivity, because the room for maneuver for optimal solutions is limited primarily by climate change, but also by available natural resources, economic constraints and available technologies. ” .
“Finding optimal solutions in the multidisciplinary energy sector in transition circumstances is definitely a very complex and broad problem and in the 21st century the development of each country will depend on its ability to adapt to new trends, uncertainties of changes and challenges they bring,” Rajakovic said.
He added that the response of the international community to climate change is the adoption of the UN Agenda 2030 (2015) with the goals of sustainable development.
The guidelines for energy development, he said, should be based on sustainable development policies, taking into account security of supply, price competitiveness, energy availability and sustainability in terms of climate change and environmental protection, with efficient use of resources and clean energy.
According to Rajaković, by targeted increase in the efficiency of the sector and the use of renewable energy sources, it is possible to achieve that energy is the engine of stability and sustainable economic development, while fulfilling the obligations undertaken according to EU energy policies.
Secondary effects, according to him, will lead to an increase in sustainable employment, a reduction in public debt and an increase in the competitiveness of the sector, so the energy transition should be seen as a development opportunity.
Rajakovic said that the concept of sustainable energy development can significantly affect the development of the Serbian economy and economies in the region, because the energy sector is very powerful and one of the few that still has the strength to initiate an intensive economic recovery, and is connected to related industries.
“The process of energy decarbonisation, which should be completed in Europe by 2050, should be urgently planned and its implementation systematically started in the next few years in both Serbia and the region,” Rajakovic said.
He added that the implementation of the necessary reforms and transformations of the energy sector are complex political, economic, technical and social processes that require reaching a consensus of many stakeholders.
Since the energy transition, according to Rajakovic, causes negative social consequences for certain social groups, especially due to the reduction of coal production and use, it is necessary to plan and implement fair transition programs, which include economic restructuring of regions that in Serbia depend significantly on fossil fuels and exploitation. lignite.
The term “green growth” or “green economy” is often, as he said, used as a synonym for energy transition, and that process implies a radical transformation of the energy sector based on decarbonization and digitalization.
It is important, as he said, that the energy transition be fair from the aspect of all participants, which could be partially achieved by decentralization and democratization of the sector and inclusion of customers as active participants in energy markets, both producers and consumers.
“For the Serbian electricity sector, decarbonisation means gradually abandoning the use of lignite and switching to domestic renewable sources, solar energy, wind energy and biomass, which, together with the development of hydro potential, will partially enable Serbia’s energy independence,” Rajakovic said.
According to him, it is necessary to prepare precise plans for the closure of all thermal power plants in the next few decades, because taxes on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will certainly make the operation of these units economically unsustainable, and thus mitigate the environmental burden they bring in Serbia.
Decentralization, according to him, implies distribution of production in geographical and locational sense, solar panels on roofs and small distributed solar power plants, which will bring additional democratization to energy cooperatives, and even demonopolization of the electricity production sector.
“Digitalization in a broader sense refers to the introduction of hardware and software for smart energy infrastructure management, which implies the application of smart grid technologies. Digitalization definitely opens serious economic opportunities for Serbia, especially for an innovative export economy,” Rajakovic said.
In the European Green Agreement, adopted for EU citizens (EU Green Deal EU-GD), the European Commission, as he said, reaffirms its commitment to solving global climate and environmental challenges, which is considered the main task of this generation.
According to him, the EU-DG is a new growth strategy that the EU intends to transform into a just and prosperous society with a modern, resource efficient and competitive economy in which there will be no net greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and in which economic growth is not linked to resource exploitation. .
Rajaković believes that therefore is the right time to accelerate the process of energy transition in Serbia and that is why it is important to recognize that this is an opportunity to ensure more sustainable growth and development through a faster transition to RES, digitalization and decarbonisation.
On the occasion of the 1,000th issue of Beta Monitor, a specialized economic newsletter aimed at the countries of Southeast Europe, Beta broadcasts a series of articles on energy free of charge available on the portal www.beta.rs in Serbian and www.betabriefing.com in English.