Sulfur dioxide emissions from thermal power plants in Serbia in 2020 were six times higher than projected in the National Emission Reduction Plan, which is in line with the Energy Community’s Large Fireplace Directive (EC), said former EC Secretariat Director Janez Kopac.
In an interview with Beta, Kopač said that such a “frightening” state of harmful gas emissions is a consequence of the operation of thermal power plants without the use of filters that are installed only in the tremoe power plant in “Kostolac B”, but have not worked for four years.
“Sulfur dioxide emissions from thermal power plants in 2020 were six times higher than envisaged by the National Emission Reduction Plan. Only emissions from Kostolac B are almost twice as high as those approved by the government for all thermal power plants in Serbia,” he said. is Kopač, whose mandate as the director of the EC Secretariat expired a month ago.
He said that emissions of nitrogen oxides and dust are a minor problem and do not exceed the values envisaged by the National Plan.
Possible sanctions for Serbia are, as he said, the loss of the right to vote in the EC, which is detrimental to the country’s reputation, but also the lack of investment in the energy sector.
Asked whether he was aware of the situation in the business of the “Nikola Tesla” thermal power plant (TENT) in Obrenovac, Kopac said that the collapse of the system surprised him a month ago, but that he did not know enough about it and did not want to comment on all causes. .
Answering the question whether the countries of the Western Balkans will pay taxes for carbon dioxide emissions from 2025, Kopac said that it is an instrument in the fight against climate change and for decarbonisation.
The European Union (EU) has introduced trading rights for fossil fuel emissions to fossil fuels and industry, some other countries have introduced taxes and other payments, and I expect all Western Balkan countries to go through the EU and introduce emissions payments. gases, primarily carbon dioxide, “Kopac said.
He added that the price (tax) of the right to emit in the EU is now around 70 euros per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), but that this price in the Western Balkans would immediately destroy the competitiveness of the industry and cause social unrest.
That is why, according to him, Serbia should gradually introduce those taxes, but constantly and predictably, because without that it will not be able to convince the EU that it is a serious state.
As Kopac said, the decision on how to spend the money collected in this way is the sovereign right of Serbia. “I have always promoted the spending of that money for energy efficiency measures, renewable energy sources, for the transition of regions with coal mines,” Kopac said.
Asked what it means that countries that respect this mechanism will have preferential treatment for exports, and otherwise pay the export tax, Kopac said that it is not yet known what the border adaptation mechanism adopted by the EU will look like, but It is clear from the statements of EU officials that Europe does not want to penalize, but stimulates trade partners, to introduce a mechanism for paying CO2 emissions.
“It will be recalculated how much coal is on average in a product, and the product is also electricity, and the price for emissions that would otherwise be paid by a producer of the same product within the EU will be calculated on such an average value of coal,” Kopac explained.
Answering the question whether Serbia has fulfilled all the obligations required of it by the EC during his mandate, Kopac said that Serbia has not responded positively to those requests and that the unbundling of activities in “Srbijagas” has not yet been successfully completed, filters in thermal power plants built-in, and that there are other problems.
Kopac said that he believes that Serbia, regardless of the energy crisis, will shut down thermal power plants by 2050, because they are all old and will be worn out by then, without new ones being built.
When asked when the energy crisis will end, Kopač said that “the question is what is the crisis”. “Energy was abnormally cheap and it couldn’t last long. In addition, the whole world is going into transition, towards decarbonisation. It’s a huge technological movement, not a crisis. Someone has to pay for it. It’s all reflected in the price of energy.” said the Digger.
He added that he expects energy prices to fall at the end of winter, but that they will never be as low as they were before the price increase.
According to him, that will have to be reflected in the price of electricity for households in Serbia, because it is now far below the cost of production. “I understand that it is politically sensitive for everyone, especially before the elections,” Kopac said.
According to him, the astronomical increase in the price of electricity and gas was caused by political factors, but not only them.
The causes are many. It started with the trade war between China and Australia and the shortage of coal in China, which is political in nature. “Russia has used its chance to put further pressure on Ukraine and the EU, and that is politics again,” Kopac said.
He added that there were “normal” market factors, among which was, above all, the post-pandemic recovery of the industry worldwide.
“China and India are switching from coal to gas. These are huge countries and the demand for gas is therefore huge. Gas has become a global product and affects everyone,” Kopac said.
He assessed that the first consequence of the energy crisis is inflation, because the prices of gas and oil affect the price of food and transport.
“Because of that, the poor will be even poorer, and the rich will be even richer. But the only long-term winners will be countries that will no longer depend on oil and gas imports, or even coal, which is slowly going into the past due to the decarbonisation process. for intensive investments in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures, “Kopac said.