Although it was originally planned that HPP Bistrica would be built by Chinese companies following the example of other large projects implemented in Serbia, current geopolitical events and the war in Ukraine, as well as the often unenviable results of Chinese companies on various projects in Serbia, non-transparency, corruption, low environmental standards, as well as delays in works and payment of subcontractors, led the Serbian authorities to change their decision and to choose Japanese organizations for Bistrica, as more reliable partners.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) should be in charge of the design part of the work, while the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) would provide the finances. Chinese companies Power China and Avik (AVIC-ENG-China International Engineering Corp) were interested in Bistrica, as well as in Đerdap, which practically received promises from the Serbian authorities.
Not only was it announced two days ago that the European Commission approved 8.44 million euros in grants for the reconstruction of the hydroelectric power plant and the preparation of a Feasibility Study with an environmental impact assessment, but the Government also intensified discussions with potential designers and financiers of the entire project.
Although it was originally planned that HPP Bistrica would be built by Chinese companies following the example of other large projects implemented in Serbia, current geopolitical events and the often unenviable results of Chinese companies on various projects in Serbia led the Government of Serbia to change its decision and Bistrica was chosen by Japanese organizations as more reliable partners.
Last month, the Minister of Energy Dubravka Đedović met with the delegation of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), whose representatives expressed interest in participating in the HPP Bistrica project.
As we learn, in the arrangement, JICA would be primarily in charge of the design part of the work, while another institution – JBIC, that is, the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation – would provide financing.
JICA is a development organization that provides support to countries around the world on projects that contribute to progress in local environments in areas that cover everything from urban development, energy and transportation to agriculture, nutrition, education, environmental protection and more.
In Serbia, JICA is already implementing several large projects, including the modernization of public transport in Belgrade, the desulfurization plant at the Nikola Tesla TPP and the development of solid waste management capacity.
In this arrangement, the largest part of the funds for financing should be provided by JBIC, which, among other things, deals with lending projects around the world that contribute to environmental protection, that is, to the reduction of harmful gas emissions.
In this respect, HPP Bistrica fully fits into their activity. And yet, the government initially intended for the Chinese, not the Japanese, to be involved in the construction of Bistrica.
As Minister Đedović said, Bistrica will play an important role in Serbia’s efforts to increase energy production from renewable sources. “Bistrica is a big project for us, we once thought it would be 700 million, but now we see that 1.2 billion will come out. The minister (Đedović) is going to Japan to negotiate for funding, and when she starts, it is done, it is of great importance for the entire southern part of the Zlatibor district. It is also of key importance for balancing energy,” said Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić recently.
When it is built, HPP Bistrica will submerge 324 hectares of land on the coast of Uvac, it will be up to 90 meters high, it will have a maximum width of up to ten meters and a length of up to 230 meters.
The reversible hydroelectric power plant has pumps that, using electricity obtained from renewable sources, pump water into the upper reservoir, so that the hydroelectric power plant serves as a huge “battery” for green energy.
HPP Bistrica will have four generators with a capacity of 157.1 megawatts, i.e. a total of 628 megawatts, which places it among the most important energy plants in the country and the main factor that will enable the wider application of green technologies in Serbia.