Legal regulations in the field of energy were changed in April 2021 when the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted two laws: the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources and the Law on Energy Efficiency and Rational Use of Energy. On that occasion, they also adopted amendments to two laws – the Law on Energy and the Law on Mining and Geological Research.
The aim of the new Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources RES (Official Gazette of the RS, no. 40/2021) is to enable new investments in RES and increase the share of renewable sources in the total energy produced. The implementation of this law will ensure environmental protection, the fight against climate shange, the reduction of costs for citizens, the energy transition, as well as the simplification and acceleration of procedures.
The new law introduces market premiums instead of the current feed-in tariffs, which are retained only for small plants and demonstration projects, in accordance with EU state aid rules. The new incentive system will expose producers to the influence of the market and competition, reducing costs for citizens and the economy. At the same time, it provides a stable and predictable legal framework for investors, which includes simpler and faster administrative procedures with the introduction of e-energy.
As an important novelty, the new law brings greater involvement of citizens in the energy transition by introducing the institute of customer-producer, which means that electricity customers, by installing solar panels on the roofs of buildings, produce electricity for their own needs, and thus reduce their electricity bill. This law also introduces a ban on the construction of hydropower plants of any type and power in protected areas.
The goals of the Law on Energy Efficiency and Rational Use of Energy (Official Gazette of the RS, no. 40/2021) are to achieve energy savings, reduce the impact of the energy sector on the environment and climate change, and contribute to the sustainable use of natural and other resources. With this law, Serbia is harmonizing with the new EU directives in this area, which, among other things, implies the introduction of regulations for eco-design, which concern the labeling of household appliances that can be found on the market, as well as regulations for highly efficient cogeneration.
In order to encourage the efficient use of energy and implementation of energy efficiency measures, it is planned to establish an administration for financing and encouraging energy efficiency within the Ministry of Mining and Energy which will make it easier for citizens to receive subsidies for replacing windows, doors, facade insulation and heating systems.
The subsidies of the administration for financing and encouraging energy efficiency will amount to 25 per cent, as much as the local self-government units will finance, and the participation of citizens in the amount of 50 per cent is planned. Incentives will be allocated through public calls to citizens and will be financed, among other things, measures for the installation of efficient biomass boilers and gas boilers, which are important for reducing pollution from individual furnaces.
The proposed amendments to the Law on Energy (Official Gazette of the RS, no. 40/2021) will enable the harmonization of domestic legislation with the acquis communautaire, will ensure the security of supply and supply of energy and energy sources, and will enable the introduction of new participants in the energy market. The amendments to the law create the legal basis for the adoption of the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan and additionally regulate and expand the powers of the Energy Agency of the Republic of Serbia.
Also, transparency and protection of competition and consumers and non-discriminatory behavior in the market are improved. With the adoption of this law, the buyers of thermal energy will also have the right to the status of energy endangered customers and reduction of bills if they meet the prescribed criteria, as the buyers of electricity and gas already have. Electronic business (e-energy) is being introduced in the Ministry’s actions, which will enable simpler procedures and faster issuance of permits and approvals.
The main goal of passing the law on amendments to the Law on Mining and Geological Research (Official Gazette of the RS, no. 101/2015 and 95-2018 – other laws 40/2021) is to create conditions for more efficient and sustainable management of mineral and other geological resources of Serbia, as well as to increase investments in geological research and mining. The value of confirmed mineral reserves in Serbia is around 200 billion dollars, and one of the goals is to increase the share of the mining sector in GDP from the current 1.9 per cent to 4-5 per cent in the next five years by more efficient use of mineral wealth.
The amendments to the law expand the competencies of the Geological Survey of Serbia, as the most important institution in this field, and enables, for the first time, the establishment of a chamber of mining and geological engineers of Serbia, which would gather experts of various profiles.
The new regulation also creates a legal basis for the introduction of electronic business in the field of mining and geology (e-mining), which will contribute to a more transparent and efficient procedure, and the approval procedure is simplified and shortened from the current 150 to an average of 15 to 20 days.