Zorana Z. Mihajlovic
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF MINING AND ENERGY
Serbia 2021 I Energy I Leader
BIOGRAPHY born in 1970 in Tuzla, she graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade in 1993, where she received her doctoral degree in 2001 in the field of energy and economics. She acquired the title of associate professor and vice-rector for science at John Naisbitt University in October 2011 where she was appointed professor in 2016.She was appointed Minister of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection in 2012, and from 2014 to 2020 she was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. Since October 2020, she has been the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and the Minister of Mining and Energy.
“OUR GOAL IS FOR AT LEAST 50% OF ENERGY TO COME FROM RES BY 2050 AND THAT EXCEPT FOR INVESTMENTS INTO MEDIUM AND BIG POWER PLANTS WE HAVE BIGGER PARTICIPATION OF WIND, SOLAR, BIOMASS, AND GEOTHERMAL ENERGY.”
A NEW LAW IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE THE MIX OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL FOR INVESTMENTS IN THE SECTOR THROUGH THE NATIONAL CLIMATE AND ENERGY PLAN (NECP). WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES IN THIS PLAN?
This year is a very important year because it marks the beginning of a turn in Serbia's energy policy towards decarbonisation and climate-neutrality. The first step in that direction is the adoption of new laws in mining and energy that will open up space for more investments into energy efficiency, RES and mining, that will comply with the highest standards of environmental protection. The Law on Renewable Energy Sources that the Ministry has prepared is one of the most modern laws in Europe, as we want to make Serbia an investment leader. We are aware that by raising energy efficiency and production of electricity from RES we can achieve our vision of a green Serbia. At the moment, RES account for 24% of electricity production and the biggest part comes from big hydropower plants, while wind, solar and biomass energy production accounts for 4%.
Our goal is for at least 50% of energy to come from RES by 2050 and that except for investments into medium and big power plants we have bigger participation of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy. We want to see solar panels on houses, buildings and production facilities all over Serbia and that’s why for the first time through the new laws we are introducing the so-called buyer-producer mechanism in order to encourage citizens to participate in the changes that we want to see in the energy sector in Serbia. Our vision is a green Serbia and we will strive for this vision through the National Plan for climate and energy until 2030 and a new strategy of energy development until 2050.
A MAJOR REVOLUTION IS EXPECTED WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP THROUGH A 10 BILLION EURO INVESTMENT PLAN FOCUSED ON THE MINING AND ENERGY SECTORS. WHAT ARE THE MAIN PILLARS OF THIS PLAN AND HOW CAN FOREIGN INVESTORS PARTICIPATE?
Serbia needs investments in practically all parts of the energy sector, from the construction of new large and medium-sized hydropower plants, investments into RES, to the investments in the gas and oil sector. The value of projects in the field of energy, current and potential, is more than 10 billion euros. A special emphasis in the investment portfolio will be placed on investments in RES, but also on all projects that contribute to regional connectivity, whether that be electricity transmission network or gas interconnections which are important so that in addition to diversifying gas supply routes, we also diversify the suppliers.
The plan is to complete the gas interconnection with Bulgaria by 2023, and we are planning to connect with all other neighbors as well: Romania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia. The construction of gas interconnection with Bulgaria will open up space for connection with LNG terminals in Greece, gas pipelines TAP and TANAP and in the future with the Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline.
We are at the moment working on innovating investment plan and we intend to produce a unified book of projects laying out the already initiated projects in all areas, from mining, electro energy and RES, to potential projects in gas and oil sector including the construction of gas pipelines and gas power plants, oil pipelines and product pipelines.
WHAT IS THE LEGACY YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE AS THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF MINING AND ENERGY?
Six years ago, Serbia was 186th in the world in the field of issuing construction permits, and today we are 9th and we compete with the best in the world. In the same period, we completed the road Corridor 10, the most important transit corridor passing through Serbia that connects Central and Southern and Southeastern Europe. A total of 350 kilometers of highways were built, more than 550 kilometers of railways in Serbia were modernized, the construction of the first high-speed railway, Belgrade-Budapest began, and projects for the construction and modernization of new ports and airports were realized or initiated. These are all results achieved in the previous Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure which I was in charge of. I intend to go on achieving equally important results in energy sector too, and my goal is to make Serbia an unavoidable route in energy, and above all to make it a country with higher energy security, all through new investments that will take into consideration the environmental aspect as well.
SERBIA IS WELL POSITIONED AS AN ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT DESTINATION IN THE POST-COVID ERA. HOW IS THE GOVERNMENT WORKING TO IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE AND FACILITATE INVESTMENTS IN THE COUNTRY?
Like other countries in the world, in 2020, the Republic of Serbia led a difficult fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to save the health and lives of citizens, on the one hand, and on the other hand, to save our economy. We were very successful by all parameters, but we, just like the whole world, have a long recovery period ahead of us. However, it is important that we never gave up on our strategic projects and plans, that despite all the problems, new factories were opened in Serbia, large projects were completed, such as the Balkan Stream gas pipeline, and new ones started. The Government has continued improving business conditions, investing in transport infrastructure, and now we want to transfer that investment momentum to mining and energy. Following the example of e-permits in construction, we are introducing digital procedures in both energy and mining, through e-energy and e-mining reforms, which means that investors will be able to obtain all necessary permits much faster, in a simple and clear procedure.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS INTERESTED IN INVESTING IN SERBIA?
Serbia is a politically and economically stable country, which is developing rapidly and which strives to constantly improve the investment conditions. Serbia has great potential in the field of energy and mining, and anyone wanting to work with us and invest is welcome. Investors can expect not only to receive a construction permit as soon as possible and through an electronic procedure, which is confirmed by the world's leading rankings on business conditions, but also the full commitment of the Government and the Ministry and readiness to work together on each project and each investment, because it is the path to a developed country.