Energy has been Jankovic Popovic Mitic’s busiest practice, according to Senior Partner Jelena Gazivoda, mainly driven by Serbia’s long-standing aspiration to achieve energy stability and security of supply and bolstered by recent legislative amendments and the expected energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
"At the moment, when it comes to the stability of the energy sector and security of supply, Serbia is completely dependent on one supplier, Russia," Gazivoda begins. Still, work is being done to change that, with the firm providing regulatory, commercial, and construction advice on a number of "big energy projects that have been implemented since 2018," she says, highlighting "one of the biggest energy projects being implemented in Serbia, related to the construction of the Serbian section of Turkish Stream, ensuring Serbia's interconnection with the adjoining natural gas transmission system operators from Bulgaria and Hungary."
"In addition to the natural gas projects, there is substantial interest from clients and operators with regard to solar and wind powerplant-related projects," Gazivoda notes. According to her, some of these projects were launched even earlier than 2017-2018 but were later put on hold, due to very unfavorable legislation. "However, last year’s amendments of the Energy Law, as well as the adoption of new legislation governing the utilization of renewable resources, enhanced the implementation of green energy projects, which changed the scene a lot," she says.
The updated legislative framework, according to Gazivoda, contributed to accelerated activity in the energy sector. "Serbia has accepted to align with the EU green agenda, through a set of multilateral agreements, all aimed to switch to green energy and decrease the consumption of coal, foster decarbonization and the use of renewable or less carbon-intensive fuels," she says. "To support the overall process, Serbia has been improving the legislative framework to follow the best practices adopted by the EU. We have implemented a number of different initiatives and obligations deriving from multinational treaties."
Gazivoda says that the overall developments related to the war in Ukraine also had an impact on Serbian firms’ activities since they significantly affected the delivery of energy, both in terms of boosting prices and a significant extension of deadlines in supply. "Our Energy practice has been very busy for a long time, but the past few months accelerated the activities in that field, both in terms of finalization of previously commenced projects and thinking about the projects on alternative sources of energy, mainly those related to renewable resources," she says.
As for the future, Gazivoda notes that "it is difficult to predict, as the situation is quite complicated considering the context in the last two months. The energy sector has been directly affected, as a result of increasing energy prices, which have been mirrored in every aspect of our lives. The implementation of some energy projects has been paused. For now, all we know is that these projects are delayed, they are not yet canceled."
Finally, one of the interesting developments in the energy sector, according to Gazivoda, could be nuclear energy, still considered only an idea. "While there are nuclear plants in the region, there is hesitancy in Serbia to invest in nuclear energy. However, as the country is becoming oriented toward energy independence, we expect developments in this sector, as well, in the upcoming period," she concludes.