Serbia is a great place for investments. Green energy is not an alternative, it is the future. I think that both the authorities and people are aware of this fact.
Elicio is a Belgian company in Serbia that generates electricity from wind energy and has built two wind farms in Serbia – Malibunar (8MW) and Alibunar (42MW) – and started developing new projects in the South Banat area. Moreover, Elicio is one of the founders of RES Serbia, Association established in March 2021, with the support of EBRD.
As a Belgian company, are you satisfied with the investment environment in Serbia?
We are glad that we have managed to transfer the knowledge in Serbia and to invest. Our two wind farms make up 12 per cent of the wind energy market in Serbia. We have invested more than 90 million euro. The World Bank’s IFC Group and several privately owned banks from Serbia have participated in the financing of the Alibunar WF project, which shows a lot about the quality of the project.
We have been operating in Serbia for more than 10 years. In the beginning, it was difficult, but with the adoption of contemporary Law on Energy and the Law on Planning and Construction, the investment environment has significantly improved.
Elicio has built two wind farms in Alibunar and announced new projects in the South Banat area.
We have started developing several projects in the South Banat area, in the territory of the City of Pančevo. The total capacity of all projects is over 200MW. We have cleared all legal and property issues and rented land plots from private owners. We are now waiting for the Assembly of the City of Pančevo to adopt a Decree on the Detailed Planning Regulation. We have already spent significant funds on preparing the relevant documentation.
What are the benefits for municipalities in which you develop and implement projects?
The Municipality of Alibunar has received significant funds from the annual property tax. Also, we have started the implementation of the Profit Sharing Agreement, according to which the municipality receives part of the profit generated by WF Alibunar every year. Based on the Framework Agreement with the Alibunar Municipality, the primary school in Banatski Karlovac was selected for the donation. A new, better performing, the heating installation was installed. The school, community and children were very happy to start the new semester in a comfortable learning environment. That is how we operate in every municipality that treats us like a reliable investor.
What are your and Elicio expectations in the RES sector in Serbia in the next period?
We are happy to hear that the Government of Serbia adopted Renewable Energy Law. I think that it is a very good job, which was done in a very short time. The next step should be the adoption of the Decrees. We hope it will be transparent and not so a quick process. Preparations for auctions request time, transparency and a detailed plan of processes which will be implemented in the coming years.
“We, as serious investors, are ready to support Serbia with our projects in order for the country to fulfil its international obligations”
Our company has projects in France and Belgium and we participated in auctions there. We are ready to help Serbia with our knowledge and experience in auctions. Also, we believe that, in the future, it will be possible to implement projects without state incentives which are completely commercial. But we will need the state’s support in terms of faster adoption of planning documentation, grid connection approvals, possible tax relief, etc. In return, Serbia will get more green energy, which is a direct contribution to a healthy environment.
What distinguishes Elicio as a serious investor in the field of RES, in Serbia and generally?
We trusted the state, invested money, and obtained bank guarantees even when the sector was new and unpredictable to Serbia. We have the know-how for project development, construction monitoring and operation of wind farms in Serbia with the cooperation of our HQ in Belgium. We participated with 20 million euro of equity in the financing of Alibunar WF, while IFC and commercial banks allocated 60 million euro as a loan. We manage and maintain our power plants. We are socially responsible to the local community. During development, construction and operation, we employed, directly or indirectly, a significant number of experts and workers. We fulfil all obligations towards the state and municipality such as paying tax.
We submitted a request to the City of Pancevo, 18 months ago and we didn’t receive any clear answer from the municipal administration. We asked for a meeting, but instead invitation, we have silence. It is not a good signal for investors, especially for investor form EU, who constructed two wind farms and who is paying almost 250 thousand EUR property tax per year.