BELGRADE, Serbia, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The new Serbian government said this week it hopes to stimulate the country's renewable energy sector by instituting public tenders for energy permits.
Serbian Minister of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection Zorana Mihajlovic told the Beta news agency a new rulebook will specify that permits for solar, geothermal and kinds of renewable energy will be subject to a tender system.
The idea is to bring new investment dollars to a largely moribund alternative energy sector in Serbia, which has "great potential" to produce power from solar and geothermal resources, backers say.
The rulebook, Mihajlovic said, "will set the time limit within which the investor will have to finish the project, or at least construct the facility to a certain level of completion.
"This way we shall make sure that we do not have the same persons extending the permit every two years, or investors who after eight years still have not finished the power plants they began constructing," she said.
If the investor fails to complete the power plant after two years, or at least bring the works to a certain level, the permit will be revoked, Mihajlovic said.
With a complicated process that now requires the builders of power plants to obtain 27 permits from a variety of government agencies, the new process will see the energy ministry prepare and award all of the necessary permits in a one-stop process.
Asserting that renewable energy sources "are underexploited in Serbia because we waited a long time for the adoption of laws and by-laws," the minister said the new government wants to see the adoption of alternative energy expanded beyond its current niche of small installations intended mainly for personal uses.
Mihajlovic told Beta last week that an energy priority plan under which the country will spend $5 billion-$7.5 billion on long-term investments will be unveiled next month. Among those priorities will be geothermal and hydro power plants, renewable energy sources and biomass projects.
Elected in July, the new government led by socialist Prime Minister Ivica Dacic has said it will adapt Serbia's energy policies to the European Union's directives on growing the percentage of electricity production generated from renewable resources.
Serbia receives an average of 2,500 hours of sunshine per year, making it a prime area for growth in solar energy, but given its lack of development in the field, meeting the EU targets could be a tall order.
"Despite a growing number of solar thermal energy installations in Serbian towns such as Nis, Novi Sad and Belgrade, the use of solar thermal energy is still in its early stages," Selena Pjesivac, spokeswoman for the Serbian Energy Efficiency Agency, told the United Nations-backed energy news Web site SolarThermalWorld.com.
"What we need is a bold move to support the promotion of solar thermal and other renewable energy sources and make sustainable investments a reality," she added.
A first step will be the publication of a national renewable energy action plan to determine the renewable energy targets, which is to be adopted soon, the Web site reported.
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