The most important fuel for household heating in Serbia is wood (34%), while 25.1% of households use heat from district heating (DH) systems (48.3% of urban households), 20.1% electricity, 10.5% coal and 9.6% natural gas. It should be noticed that electricity consumption is mostly by direct conversion to heat (via heaters and furnaces) and not for heat pumps or air condition units.
The total installed capacity of the DH systems in Serbia is 5821 MW of heat, which is supplied by 58 public companies with their heat production plants situated in 255 locations. The average age of heat production plants is 28 years.
Primary energy sources for heat production in DH plants are currently natural gas (77.7%), heavy oil (13.5%) and coal (8.8%). In the last 5 years the consumption of natural gas has gradually increased by 5.5%, mostly at the expense of heavy oil.
The yearly production of heat in DH systems in Serbia is in the order of 7000 GWh, out of which 81% is distributed to households and 19% to commercial and public buildings. The billing method is based mostly on the m2 of space being heated.
The total length of the heat distribution network is 2354 km with an average age of nearly 23 years and has been constantly upgraded and enlarged (increased by nearly 300 km in the last 5 years). Estimated heat losses in the distribution system are of around 12%.
The largest DH system is in the capital city of Belgrade. The installed capacity of heat production plants in Belgrade is 49% of the total in Serbia, supplying heat to 49% of all households with 51% of the total m2 of heating space, and with a distribution network which is 31% of the overall length of all DH distribution networks in Serbia.
The use of renewable energy sources (RES) and cogeneration of electricity and heat (in CHP units) in DH systems in Serbia has started recently and is not yet statistically important. The number of plants using wood chips is increasing every year, reaching a yearly consumption of nearly 7700 tones. One newly built CHP unit is in operation, with an installed power of 10 MWe.
In many Serbian strategic documents (energy sector development strategies and implementation and action plans on country, regional and local level) the following is stressed in regard to the DH system: modernisation and enlargement of the existing district heating systems with the aim of increasing energy efficiency in generation, transport, distribution and heat use, reduction of the share of liquid fuel and coal and higher use of RES, and combined production of electricity and heat. The introduction of measuring the heat consumption of end users and applying a tariff system according to the heat consumed is also one of the specified priority actions. The planned cumulative investments in the district heating system by the year 2030 are estimated in the order of 550 million EUR.
Having all of the above in mind, it is not surprising that in our National Sustainable Development Strategy it is stipulated that the reduction of heating energy has the highest potential for the increase of energy efficiency (over 50%) through improvements in building insulation and decrease in the use of electricity for domestic heating.
Replicable DHS demo cases
The tailor made Capacity Building programm for Serbia covers training topics identified by Serbian DHS operators and staff during the needs assessment phase. The highest priorities have been given to technical topics and managerial topics. Top priority topics were additionally also identified in RES and EE topics including waste to energy aspects, organisational topics and financial topics. The trainings have been evaluated through anonymous questionnaires by the trainees.
Country project partner
The Laboratory of Thermal Engineering and Energy is one of the largest in the Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences. It represents the most relevant scientific institution for thermal engineering and energy in Serbia. Biomass research is an important part of its activities, including fundamental and applied research as well as the development of mathematical models for combustion and heat transfer processes. Vinca will support the implementation of pilot projects in Serbia.
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