Serbian National Energy Strategy (SNES) – Strategy or a Simple Wishlist?
National energy strategies, in most cases, should ensure the long term sustainability, security and economic competitiveness of energy supply of the country. Considering the fact, that energy issues always involve multidisciplinary factors, it is evident that prior to the final version and publishing to the audience via Official Gazette, large scale preparations and extensive professional and social consultations should be conducted in order to involve as many stakeholders as possible before the public debate and before the main national energy concept will put into practice.
SNES should be based on new, healthy foundation without taking the burden of economic, political and social disturbances faced in previous decades. It has to consider main national interests, to secure the security of supply by economically and politically feasible diversification of energy supply of the country, to reduce the ecological footprint and asserting environmental issues in sense of global trends and according to the resources currently available in the country.
As we can learn from current studies and tendencies in the world the age of low cost and limitless fossil fuels has come to an end. 21st century brought us several challenges which should be considered not only in SNES documents but on the global level, too. Rapid decrease of available fresh water, fossil fuel resources, clear water and sustainable energy represent key energy challenges in the world of energy regardless of borders and countries. In order to meet the new global challenges and preserve national natural resources and healthy environment it is inevitable to implement a new approach in national strategies which hardly can be noticed in the available SNES.
In the existing SNES it is very hard to distinguish the wishes and the real aim and goals of the Government although strategy without clear and transparent goals, hardly can be called a strategy. Not only to set up aims and goals, but also to give adequate responses to the challenges and impacts of the political going-ons and external conditions in a way to be suitable to increase the confidence of the society and of investors.
SNES lacks transparent action plans according to which proposals and scenarios should be made. Action plans should be in accordance with the main objectives of the strategy and should depict main areas of sustainable energy management, improvement of energy efficiency, enhencement of renewable energy resources, management of the reserves of domestic resources, the increase of awareness toward environment, development of district heatings, efficient use of available resources, and the industry development.
The energy policy and strategies in the future should be developed on the basis of the reactions to the most important internal, regional and international challenges and the efforts of EU, taking into consideration specific geopolitical and geostrategical features. The energy strategy should focus on the rationalization of energy demand and supply with significant focus on the outdated infrastructure and service in Serbia. Rationalization of energy demand and supply will serve the growth of Serbian economy and will make services accessible to consumers.
Energy policies should provide to the audience transparent guidelines how to meet new global energy challenges and how to turn current challenges into future potentials. This should be true not only for energy but to economy and society in general. Currently available strategic documents in Serbia do not provide set of information about three major features in energy: competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply. These should be the three main pillars of national energy strategies. How to increase competitiveness, how to develop transition to sustainability and how to guarantee the security of supply?
According to the author of this short review, these three pillars and the objectives of the energy policy are closely linked to other areas of economy, industrial and developmental policies, consequently there is no doubt that these areas should be implemented into energy strategy documents.
The long term competitiveness can be achieved mainly by proactive participation on the regional energy market and EU, by the improvement and increase of R&D activities in renewable energy sector, by the improvement of energy efficiency, and by an adequate management of local resources, mainly mineral, geothermal and biomass resources.
Serbian regulatory environment should be transformed in a way to stimulate competition not only in terms of energy investments. Government and regulatory bodies should establish transparent and non-discriminative conditions for market stakeholders, consumers and to attract foreign investors. Attractive investor-friendly environment should be established by long term and stable regulations, effective, simple and accelerated administration which is currently not the case. Without these elements competitiveness will be hardly achievable and less sustainable, consequently less attractive for investors and for development.
Recent international geopolitical and geostrategical developments have made clear that energy security is not only an economic issue but rather geopolitical and strategical. It is obvious that Serbia will remain a country with high percentage of energy import but thinking rationally and responsibly every country should strive for energy independence. In order to be as much independent as it is possible, natural sources and transit routes have to be diversified as much as possible within the range of economical rationality. Energy consumption should be reduced and lowered to the minimal level while the use of renewable resources should be increased, the biomass production and use of biomass should be utilized, regional infrastructure network has to be developed and integrated into European energy infrastructure reaching in this way the European market and possibility for price stability.
It is the responsibility of the Government to put the priority on the reduction and enhencement of energy consumption, to apply innovative technologies and to increase the level of consumer consciousness in terms of the use of carbon through awareness-raising campaigns. Energy efficiency projects in the building sector are one of the key component of the improvement of energy efficiency. Beyond these it is of crucial importance to ensure the stability and credibility of the system of government’s energy institutions in the long term in a way that it should be able to put Energy Strategy into practice and monitor its implementation on a regular basis.
SNES should be based on the opinion of local and regionally significant economic, trade, academic and social stakeholders and should use the recommendations of respected ministries, International Energy Agency (IEA) and the energy policy concepts of EU. This approach is time consuming, involves lots of consultations but in this way an energy strategy can be suitable to increase the confidence of the society and investors. The involvement and the cooperation between main industry stakeholders will ultimately upgrade the possibility of professional and social acceptance of the document on the local and regional level as well.