Although the Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS) still relies on coal, for the most part, the idea to shut down certain thermal power plants (TPP) and build solar ones instead is approaching realization.

The winner of the last year’s tender for the drafting of a study based on which solar power plants will be built at the coal-ash ponds of TPP Morava in Svilajnac, and TPP Kolubara A in Veliki Crljeni was the renowned domestic company CEEFOR, which has been designing solar power plants for more than 10 years.

Isidora Mladenović, one of the 11 engineers working for the company CEEFOR who were engaged in drafting the study, guided us through this process immediately after the study was submitted to EPS.

According to her, the project lasted precisely one year and was implemented in four phases. EPS’ initial plan was to shut down the two power plants mentioned above and build solar power plants on their sites.

After analyzing the locations and potential of the available surfaces, solar radiation, and temperature in the study’s first phase, the CEEFOR team estimated that the full surface capacity of TPP Morava was 45MW and 71MW of TPP Kolubara A.


Similar solar power plants in the world were considered when drafting the study, including the solar power plant built in 2015 on the ash pond in Visonta, Hungary. The 16MW facility was the largest solar power plant in Hungary at the time and the largest energy concept in Central Europe that relies on renewable energy sources.

Foto-ilustracija: Unsplash (Dominik Vanyi)

A 4MW solar farm was built on the surface of a former coal mine in Saarland, Germany. The German company BayWa r.e. developed the project in 2012 to utilize an exhausted coal mine for energy production. This process brings numerous benefits to the owners of power plants and mines, bearing in mind that it has been estimated that the costs of converting such sites into solar plants are much lower than using them for other purposes, such as the development of agriculture or tourism.

Similar projects have been implemented in Belgium, Poland, England, the USA, France, China, and other countries, which proves that the domestic power-generating industry is not lagging behind the rest of the world.

EPS plans to initially build two solar power plants, each with 10MW power, so the second and third phases of the study focused on this pilot project.

The best solutions come from CEEFOR

The other two study phases covered a complete technical, construction and electrical solution for two potential solar power plants. An economic and financial analysis of the profitability of the mentioned 10MW capacity was also included.

As Isidora Mladenović explained to us, in the case of the solar power plant at the Morava thermal power plant site, the expected annual production will be 13,850,589 kWh. At the same time, the return on investment is estimated at 8 years and 11 months.

The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions will amount to 270,094 tonnes annually, and the money saved from reduced emissions will amount to close to 22.6 million euros.

In terms of TPP Kolubara A, Mladenović presents similar figures – the expected annual production of the power plant will amount to 13,627,597kWh. At the same time, the return-on-investment period is estimated at close to 9 years and savings at 3 million euros.

The CEEFOR team proposed EPS, a fixed photovoltaic system, considering that such a system proved to be the optimal solution from the production aspect and that it corresponds to the solar potential in the local climate. Also, this system is easy to use and maintain and generates a decent income from power plant production.

Given that EPS agreed to the photovoltaic panels being fixed, the shadows cast by the rows of panels mutually affect each other. To reduce the impact of shadows and thereby avoid losses in the power plant’s production, the distance between all rows of panels was set at 4 metres, which facilitates the minimum permissible impact of shading.

It is proposed to use modern photovoltaic panels with a maximum power of 640-665W, whereby twenty panels will form one chain (string). Nine chains, or 180 panels, will be connected to one 100kW inverter. The total number of inverters will be 100, while the total number of panels will be 18,000, says Mladenović.

“The entire study is an innovative project, the first of its kind in Serbia, whereby the available and unutilized areas of the ash pond would be used to construct solar power plants and produce green energy. Examples of similar regional projects were of great importance to us,” said our interlocutor.

She adds that with this study, CEEFOR’s portfolio is now enhanced with another unique experience which creates the opportunity to build a solar power plant on a hitherto unknown type of land.

“We also owe special thanks to our peers from EPS, with whom we had excellent cooperation throughout the entire process of drafting the study, as well as to their colleagues from other services who contributed to the successful completion of the study and all accompanying procedures,” Isidora Mladenović says for Energetski Portal.

Prepared by: Milena Maglovski

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS.