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Debate over nuclear energy as alternative to coal in Serbia

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While energy experts advocate for nuclear energy as a viable replacement for coal in future electricity production, environmentalists express strong opposition, citing concerns over its potential hazards to human health and the environment. They highlight the legal prohibition on the construction of nuclear power plants in Serbia as a significant deterrent.

Minister of Mining and Energy, Dubravka Đedović Handanović, acknowledges nuclear energy as a base source and emphasizes the need to secure its utilization by 2040, alongside renewable energy sources. She underscores advancements in smaller and more cost-effective nuclear reactor technologies, signaling a shift away from coal reliance.

Nikola Rajaković, a professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade, stresses the importance of considering nuclear energy as a potential solution to replace coal-fired power generation in the next two decades. While acknowledging safety concerns, Rajaković suggests conducting feasibility studies to explore the viability of nuclear energy alongside renewable sources.

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Vojislav Vuletić, General Secretary of the Serbian Gas Association, echoes support for nuclear energy as a realistic alternative to coal, given Serbia’s limited renewable resources. He emphasizes the need to address staffing shortages and regulatory barriers to nuclear development while highlighting the continued relevance of gas as an energy source.

Svetlana Stanišić, a professor at Singidunum University, outlines the global energy challenge and underscores the benefits of nuclear energy, citing France’s successful utilization of nuclear reactors. Stanišić emphasizes nuclear energy’s lower environmental impact compared to fossil fuels and its potential role in combating climate change.

However, Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta from the Ecological Uprising rebukes Minister Handanović’s advocacy for nuclear energy, citing legal prohibitions and urging prioritization of environmental concerns over speculative projects. He stresses the importance of addressing communal and environmental issues rather than pursuing contentious initiatives.

The debate underscores the complexities surrounding Serbia’s energy transition, balancing the imperative to reduce reliance on coal with environmental and legal considerations. As Serbia navigates its energy future, a comprehensive approach encompassing renewable sources, nuclear energy, and environmental stewardship will be essential to ensure sustainable development.

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