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Analyzing the 2024 Energy Balance: Insights into the Import of Energy Sources

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Data from the Energy Balance for the current year, adopted by the Government of Serbia, inevitably indicate that our country is increasingly becoming dependent on the import of electricity and coal, which is the primary source for domestic electricity production, according to experts.

The Energy Balance for the year 2024 anticipates that the total available energy in this year will be 17.057 million tons of oil equivalents, which is four percent higher than the total estimated energy supply for 2023.

The share of the required amount of primary energy to be provided from domestic production is 58%, while 42% will come from net imports.

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As a result, it is estimated that in this year, the import of oil derivatives will be 22% higher compared to the previous year, and there is a need to import 6% more gas.

Considering that domestic oil production will cover 20% of the demand for “black gold” in Serbia, the import of oil is projected to be 9% lower than the previous year.

As for coal, the plan for this year is to import 5.5 million tons, which is 10% more than the estimated import in 2023. The estimated coal import in the previous year was 4.8 million tons, marking a 70% increase compared to the import in 2022 (2.8 million tons).

It is estimated that the gross electricity production in 2024 will be 40,585 gigawatt-hours.

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This represents a one percentage point increase compared to the estimated production in the previous year. The plan is for the majority of electricity to be generated in thermal power plants, with 25,894 GWh or 64%, while hydroelectric power plants will contribute 10,504 GWh or 25.9%. Wind farms will contribute 1,309 GWh, and solar power will contribute 129 GWh, with 15 GWh coming from consumer-producers.

However, the total electricity production in Serbia will not be sufficient for domestic consumption needs, so the plan is to import electrical energy totaling 6,401 GWh, which is 19% more than the estimated import in 2023.

Regarding exports, including transit, it is planned to reach 8,050 GWh in 2024, which is a ten percent increase compared to 2023.

Transmission and distribution losses in 2024 are estimated at 4,008 GWh, which is a two percent increase compared to the previous year.

Among other things, there is an anticipated increase in the production from renewable energy sources, specifically solar and wind energy. The energy balance for 2024 estimates the use of solar energy at 129 GWh, which is a 207% increase compared to the expectations from 2023.

For biogas, a growth in utilization is estimated at about 41%, while the planned use of wind energy in 2024 is 1,309 GWh, a 28% increase from the previous year. The only area where the same production as in 2023 is planned is geothermal energy.

Energy expert Velimir Gavrilović stated to Danas that the Energy Balance predicts the import of significant amounts of electricity and coal, which is an alarming sign that domestic production is increasingly unable to meet consumer needs.

“If we analyze the data from the Energy Balance for 2024, it is clear that, compared to 2022, coal imports will be higher by 85%.

This is an indicator that something is wrong with domestic production, meaning that it is decreasing. The reason for this is insufficient coal quantities in our mines and that the exploration is being done in the wrong places. Consequently, there is a need to import it to a greater extent, and that certainly comes with a cost,” explains our interlocutor.

He adds that the anticipated import of electricity for this year is extremely high, and how much electricity will be imported in the next winter season will largely depend on whether it will be mild like the current or previous one or, conversely, harsh.

“Approximately 20% of electricity was imported during a crisis period when Serbia, due to poor management of EPS (Electric Power Industry of Serbia) and insufficient production of both electricity and coal, faced a collapse of the power system. This indicates that not enough electric energy is produced in domestic facilities, partly due to increased consumption due to economic activity growth and pressure from the European Union to close some outdated thermal power plants in Serbia. It is certainly a problem, primarily financial, as EPS has to import electricity to cover shortages. The extent of this cost can be estimated by noting that electricity produced in Serbia is twice as cheap as the imported one,” says Gavrilović.

He concludes that it can be concluded that Serbia is becoming more and more dependent on electricity and coal, and this can only be changed with a faster development of renewable energy sources. “This process is progressing very slowly, and a large number of projects have not yet been implemented, mainly due to paperwork,” concludes our interlocutor.

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