Kolubara B Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Kolubara B power station is a proposed 350-megawatt (MW) coal-fired station in Serbia.

The project was initially proposed as 750 MW, but recent draft spatial plans for the special purpose area and strategic environmental impact assessment reports only referenced a power plant utilizing coal of “up to 400 MW.”[1]

Location

The map below shows Veliki Crljeni, the approximate area where the plant would be built.

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Background

Construction on Kolubara B first started in the early 1990s but was interrupted shortly after the break up of Yugoslavia, due to the lack of a stable financial structure. In 2008, RWE Power recommended "investment in minimizing losses in transmission and distribution and improvements in efficiency at existing power plants, rather than the continued construction of Kolubara B power station."[2]

On June 30, 2011, Serbia's state-run power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) and Italy's Edison signed a preliminary deal to jointly develop the Kolubara B Power Station, a 750 MW project (2 x 375 MW). A feasibility study was expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012. After that, the two utilities would set up a joint venture. They gave no cost estimates.[3][4][5]

Under the proposal, Edison offered EPS a 36.4 percent stake in the new company, in which EPS had already invested 300 million euros ($424.8 million) back in 1988 before putting the construction on hold due to lack of funds. EPS had earlier put the construction cost of the plant at around 1.6 billion euros (US$2.3 billion). No bidder had expressed interest in building the plant.[3]

Administrative permits for the project expired in July 2014, so the project promoters would have to apply for new ones.[6] The project was mentioned as potential in the new energy strategy of Serbia approved by the government in May 2015 and was awaiting approval from parliament.[7]

In August 2018, the Serbian government adopted a decision to set up a working group for the management of the construction of Kolubara B.[8]

In March 2019, the Acting Director of EPS said construction on Kolubara B was planned for 2020.[9]

In March 2020, EPS signed a preliminary agreement with PowerChina to begin construction on the EUR 385 million project by 2021. The agreement was for one 350 MW unit. The project was planned to come online by the end of 2024.[10]

In September 2020, after an hour of heated debate, the public hearing on the draft spatial plan and strategic environmental impact assessment of the construction of the Kolubara B was halted.[11]

On May 20, 2021, the Serbian Energy Minister sent a letter to the Director of EPS telling him to suspend all activities on the development of the 350 MW Kolubara B thermal power plant.[11] However, the plant was not officially cancelled.

A plan commissioned by Belgrade Land Development Public Agency in June 2022 stated that development of the power station was "not very likely".[12] Others were still pushing for the completion of the plant's construction.[13]

Potential solar plans

In October 2021, it was reported that EPS ceased work, as instructed by the Ministry of Mining and Energy. However, management was still insisting construction should continue. The government never came out with a final decision. In parallel, EPS issued a call for research to potentially install a solar power plant at the site. The bid was set to open on November 23, 2021, and close 60 days later.[14]

In December 2021, President Aleksandar Vučič apologized for something that was never in his scope of competence: “I made the mistake of (...) not moving forward with Kolubara B, because I listened to all the ecologists, fake experts, and foreigners who came to patronize me and give me a piece of their mind. I would hang myself from the biggest chandelier here because I listened to them”, he concluded.[15]

Financing

On September 6, 2013, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) confirmed that it was no longer interested in financing the plant, saying in an email that "We have also informed [Elektroprivreda Srbije] that, should the project become active again, it will have to be assessed against the [Bank's] new energy strategy which has far more stringent rules and would make our possible participation very difficult.” EBRD was under pressure to follow the example of the World Bank and the European Investment Bank in significantly limiting coal lending.[16]

In 2014, it was reported that the Chinese electrical power corporation Sinomach-CNEEC-CNEETC had opened an office in the Kolubara District of Serbia and was interested in "large energy projects in Serbia," including the power plant Kolubara B. The corporation said it was willing to invest EUR 1.3 billion in Kolubara B and the Radljevo coal mine, and that negotiations concerning Kolubara B were ongoing and the project could begin soon if there was successful cooperation between Serbia and China.[17]

In 2020, Kolubara B was expected to be built by state-owned Power Construction Corp. of China – PowerChina.[14]

PowerChina’s status is unknown

In 2021, China announced it would stop investing in coal plants outside of its borders. However, in October 2021, it remained unclear whether the decision included existing agreements. It was also unknown if there were any changes with regard to the contract with EPS. However, PowerChina expressed recent interest for solar power plant projects and other renewables in Serbia, Montenegro, and other places in Europe.[14]

Kolubara mining basin

According to Bankwatch, locals living near the Kolubara Mine Complex have reported delayed, insufficient, or no compensation for their damaged properties.[18]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS)
  • Parent company: Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS)
  • Developer: PowerChina
  • Location: Belgrade, Veliki Crljeni, Serbia
  • Coordinates: 44.4675, 20.28444 (approximate)
  • Status: Pre-permit development
  • Capacity: 350 MW
  • Type:
  • Start date: 2024
  • Coal Type: Lignite
  • Coal Source: Kolubara Mine Complex
  • Source of financing:

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "Serbia issues draft spatial plan for coal-fired thermal power plant Kolubara B," Balkan Green Energy News, June 8, 2020
  2. "RWE identified potential improvements in Serbian electricity supply," RWE Power, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Serbia EPS, Italy Edison in 750 MW coal-fired project", Reuters, June 30, 2011
  4. "Edison Agrees With Serbian EPS to Complete Kolubara B Plant," Bloomberg, June 30, 2011
  5. "Edison & EPS power utility JV project New TPP Kolubara B, status unclear," Serbia Energy, undated
  6. "Kolubara B lignite-fired power plant, Serbia," Bankwatch, accessed May 2017
  7. Conversation with local activists, June 2015
  8. "Serbia to start building 350 MW thermal power plant," SeeNews, August 30, 2018
  9. "Tokom marta tender za obnovu blokova A1 i A2 u TENT-u - Nastavak projekta Kolubara B najkasnije 2020," Ekapija, March 8, 2019
  10. "EPS hiring PowerChina to build 350 MW coal power plant in Serbia," Balkan Green Energy News, March 12, 2020
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Serbia halts construction of 350 MW coal power plant Kolubara B," Balkan Green Energy News, May 24, 2021
  12. "Autodrome Near Airport, Velodrome in Cukarica and Hippodrome in Ovca – General Urban Plan on Belgrade Until 2041 Available for Public Review from Monday," Ekapija, June 12, 2022
  13. "Naši promašaji u energetici," Politika, May 30, 2022
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Serbia’s EPS wants to build solar park on suspended coal plant project site," Balkan Green Energy News, October 20, 2021
  15. "Kolubara B – missed development opportunity or project without a future?" RERI, December 2021
  16. "EBRD gives up Kolubara B lignite power plant project in Serbia," CEE Bankwatch and CEKOR Press Release, September 9, 2013
  17. "Chinese company opens European office in Serbian town," Tanjug, January 20, 2014
  18. "New arrests link corruption with land expropriation at Serbian Kolubara mine," CEE, November 9, 2013

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