The European Union is the biggest donor of the energy sector in Serbia, with investments exceeding 830 million EUR in grant funds since 2000 till the end of 2021. The EU is funding projects in Serbia that aim at security of supply, diversification of energy sources, market liberalization and improved energy efficiency. The ultimate goal is to reduce pollution and mitigate climate change, which are the goals of the European Green Deal and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, endorsed by Serbia in 2020.
For 2022, the EU is preparing grant support to for the entire energy sector in Serbia in the amount of EUR 100 million, including EUR 49.6 million for an important project of energy interconnection between Europe and Serbia – The gas inter-connector Serbia – Bulgaria. The new gas inter-connector, whose construction began on February 1, 2022, will connect the City of Niš with the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The projected capacity of the new gas pipeline will allow for the transfer of 1.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Finalization of the gas pipeline is planned for the fourth quarter of 2023 and it will provide additional 80 percent capacity increase relative to Serbian’s current gas needs (around 2.4 billion cubic meters annually) and it will largely increase the overall security of natural gas supply. This project will also contribute to the clean energy goals.
Another very important connectivity project is the construction of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor. The construction of this corridor will increase the security of electricity supply and the market integration, connecting the region of Southeast Europe with Italy. The grant funds in the amount of EUR 28 million, provided through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), will mobilize EUR 164 million in investment.
Energy efficiency is an important segment of the EU support to the Serbian energy sector. In order to reduce its energy consumption and negative environmental impact, Serbia needs to work on the introduction of more energy efficient technologies and increase the energy efficiency of facilities. In addition to specific projects, the EU provides support to the Government of the Republic of Serbia in the necessary legislative improvements in this field.
One of the leading energy efficiency projects in Serbia is the rehabilitation of the Military Medical Academy (VMA) in Belgrade, with the estimated value of works exceeding EUR 200 million. For the first phase, worth EUR 105 million, the EU will provide grant funds of EUR 35 million. The upcoming rehabilitation of public buildings in Belgrade and Serbia is supported through grant funds of EUR 20 million, and it will be implemented within four years.
Serbia produces most of its electricity by burning coal in thermal power plants. This type of electricity production causes large emission of harmful gases and wastewater. The European Union is helping Serbia reduce pollution from thermal power plants by modernizing and installing treatment systems. The construction of a wastewater treatment plant in Thermal Power Plant “Nikola Tesla” in Obrenovac has reduced the amount of harmful oil water discharge into the Sava river, which has led to improved water quality in the vicinity of the thermal power plant. The project of constructing a wastewater treatment plant for the Thermal Power Plant “Kostolac B” is underway, and the EU is providing the support of EUR 6.5 million grant funds for this project.
The European Union has helped Serbia overcome emergency situations, when electricity was unavailable and much needed. In the fall of 2020, new temporary COVID hospitals were built in Serbia – in Batajnica, near Belgrade, and in Kruševac. Both hospitals were supplied with electricity through 35/10 kV mobile power substations, donated to Serbia by the EU.
Energy efficiency projects in Serbia can be financed with favourable loans, which are often accompanied by EU subsidies. The following supported programs and funds are available to citizens and businesses: Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF), Green for Growth Fund (GGF): Regional Energy Efficiency Programme (REEP and REEP Plus).