Representatives of the Ministry of Energy, the City of Belgrade and the Embassy of Switzerland, signed, on Monday January 16th, an annex contract for the construction of a combined biomass heating-power plant in Padinska Skela, which has secured additional funding from the Government of Switzerland in the amount of EUR 1.2 million and 500,000 Swiss francs.
Also, at the end of December 2016, the company „Vinex Etil“ announced an investment of 5.8 million euros in the construction of the BIOENERGANA in Lukicevo near Zrenjanin, with the capacity of 2 megawatts. „Bioenergy point“, besides the existing factory for the production of pellets in Boljevac, started the construction of another such facility at the beginning of December, worth around 2 million euros, and a biomass power plant, which is an investment of additional EUR 7 million "heavy".
All these current - announced and already started - investment in biomass and its processing occur at the moment when the project BIORES, which introduces an innovative concept of biomass logistic and trade centers (BLTC) in Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria, is entering its final phase. The activities, that the National Biomass Association SERBIO conducted in cooperation with international partners from the European Union, began in January 2015 and is planned to complete the project by June 2017.
- Within BIORES project we should achieve three major objectives - to form between six and eight logistics and trade centers for woody biomass in at least two of the three countries (Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia), as well as to secure contracts for the sale of at least 8,000 tons of wood fuel and purchase adequate quantities of raw materials to produce these fuels. We are still working on these two goals, while the third - the training of 12 trainers who will hold further trainings to those interested in woody biofuels supply chains, as well as the presence of at least 400 participants in these trainings, is carried out - said in an interview for eKapija Vojislav Milijić, vice president of the National Biomass Association SERBIO and BIORES project manager for Serbia.
According to him, these centers should have optimized organization of trade and logistics, they shall be traded in different products based on biomass, and therefore it was important that they fulfilled some of the most important criteria: that the location has the necessary potential and resources, that the local administration is interested to contribute, that there are some interested private investors, and that there are consumer awareness and demand on the market. In these three countries were 15 such locations recognized, six of which in Serbia.
- There are already potential investors in Serbia, and we are currently working on two logistic and trade centers. Basically it comes to brownfield investments where there is already a basic infrastructure. In some cases, there is a lot of equipment, and it is necessary to adapt the space and purchase additional parts of machines. The amount of the investment depends mainly on the baseline, so in some logistic centers in Austria the investment was lower than 500,000 EUR, while in some centers in Germany there was several million euros invested - said Milijić.
Biomass could also heat greenhouses ...
When it comes to the provision of raw materials, the interlocutor of eKapija says that the demand for wood is big and that the forest owners and users are interested in cooperation, but their interest is "to create additional value and achieve better price."
- Selling quality wood fuel is something that will increasingly gain in importance in the future, and the importance of renewable energy sources, biomass in particular, has been recognized by representatives of the state. There is willingness for concrete support, that we have already received from the Ministry of Agriculture, and local governments - said Vojislav Milijić, adding that the project BIORES will employ large numbers of people, both at the logistic and trade centers, and indirectly, by engaging in the supply of wood , production and transport.
As for the potential of biomass as a resource in Serbia, our interlocutor explains that it depends on the type of biomass. If we are talking about agricultural biomass, Vojvodina is certainly the leading, primarily Backa. When it comes to the opportunities for energy plantations, there are good potentials in Banat, while in Srem there is a presence of agricultural as well as woody biomass.
With him agrees the Agroeconomic analyst Milan Prostran, which states that the annual capacity of biomass in Serbia is about 3.5 million tons, of which about 2 million in Vojvodina and 1.5 million tons in central Serbia.
- The potential is obvious, but still insignificantly used, because about this type of energy is seriously spoken only in the past decade. I think that the country has not yet sufficiently recognized the importance of biomass, which can be used for heating greenhouses, which would extend the season to the entire year - says Prostran in the interview for eKapija.
He points out that in Vojvodina the biomass is most present, which is generated from residues after harvest, or grain harvest, and recalls that numerous projects have already started, and that there are a briquette plant and insulation panels, which successfully operate.
It is necessary to develop the domestic market
Vojislav Milijić notes that woody biomass has significant potential in eastern, southern and western Serbia, but also draws attention to the complexity of raw materials, because we have to bear in mind the consumers. According to him, where there is potential, there are often no consumers, and the long distance transport - is not always cost-effective.
When it comes to placing biomass on the market, that also depends on the product. By wood pellets, after many years of dominance in export, there was a significant increase in demand in the domestic market. Wood chips has still a limited demand in the domestic market, while the demand for firewood is constantly growing, because it is used by households and producers of pellets and plywood. The demand for straw is still limited, but it is increasing.
- I think we certainly need to work on developing the domestic market, because if we strive for energy independence, we should not export biomass, which we will then compensate by importing fossil fuels - believes Vojislav Milijić.
He concludes that the project BIORES contributes to the promotion of renewable energy, but its aim is primarily to draw attention to the economic effects of use of woody biofuels and present models and ways to use them as an environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost-effective fuel.