RWE is to help Serbian utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) to modernise and extend power plants in Serbia after the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic collaboration.

The two companies have identified run-of-river hydropower plants and a lignite-fired power plant as their first joint projects. The collaboration will extend to the upgrade and expansion of other existing power plants as well as the construction and operation of new facilities.

“Serbia has a great need for modern power plant technology. At the same time, there are many resources to be leveraged there in both the renewables and conventional segment,” said Peter Terium, CEO of RWE. “In all energy technology segments, we have the necessary state-of-the-art expertise to help expand energy generation in this region in an efficient and environmentally sound manner.”

Under their agreement, the two companies will undertake a nine-month review phase to make a full technical and economic assessment of Serbia’s existing power plants. Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian deputy prime minister, said he was “delighted” with the deal. “Hydropower in particular offers great opportunities for co-operation,” he added.

The initial projects consist of the modernisation, extension and operation of hydropower projects on the Danube and Drina rivers with a combined capacity of 920 MW. The companies will also expand a 1240 MW lignite fired plant 40 km to the west of Belgrade.

Further projects will be identified at the end of the nine-month review phase.

“Our focus lies on maximisation of existing run-of-river hydropower plants in Serbia,” said Dr. Hans Bünting, CEO of RWE Innogy. “By adopting targeted modernisation measures and streamlined business management practices, we will be able to enhance the efficiency of these plants. In addition we plan to extend the use of hydropower there even further … there is plenty of potential for expansion in the rivers of Serbia.” 

In May 2011, RWE Innogy entered into a joint venture with EPS on the development of five hydropower plants on the Morava River with a total capacity of 150 MW. Feasibility studies are currently being conducted for these plants and construction could begin from 2014.