The Serbian government announced that it is looking for a strategic partner to develop a minimum of five self-balancing solar power plants with a total installed capacity of 1,000 MWac (or 1,200 MWdc) and a battery storage system with a minimum total installed capacity of 200 MW and the ability to accumulate at least 400 MWh of electric energy.
The strategic partner will design, develop, build, and maintain the project before transferring ownership to the public power utility company (EPS) on a turnkey basis. The strategic partner must also undertake all other necessary activities and construct the infrastructure for the project’s operation. This includes preparing the sites for the solar power plants and battery systems and building the infrastructure for connecting the solar power plants and battery systems to the power grid, which may require expanding transmission or distribution capacities. As EPS will be the sole owner of the project, all production capacities and related infrastructure will be incorporated into the EPS portfolio.
The timeline for the project’s implementation is set at four to five years, with the contractual period extending for six to seven years.
The responsibilities of the strategic partner
Financing: The strategic partner must secure a letter of interest for financing the total investment costs from international financial institutions or reputable export credit agencies. The financing offer must be suitable for public sector financing with a repayment period of at least 18 years and other terms acceptable to the Republic of Serbia as the borrower.
Project development: The strategic partner will conduct a preliminary project analysis at the feasibility study level with a general project design. The partner should select optimal locations to construct the solar power plants and energy storage battery systems and prepare appropriate spatial planning and technical documentation, including studies on the project’s environmental and social sustainability.
Designing: The strategic partner should produce the technical documentation necessary for project implementation, which includes obtaining construction and usage permits and production licenses for electric energy.
Procurement and construction: The strategic partner is responsible for procuring equipment, software, and other services required for the project’s implementation. They will also be responsible for construction work on all project components, which includes obtaining usage permits and licenses for electric energy production.
Initial management and maintenance: The strategic partner will manage and maintain the project for two years after it becomes operational. During this period, they must transfer knowledge and train EPS’s technical team, which includes instruction in production and planning optimization techniques.
The Serbian government has established a selection committee led by the Minister of Mining and Energy, Dubravka Đedović. The committee’s tasks include issuing a public call, receiving and reviewing submitted documentation, evaluating offers, drafting a contract proposal, and submitting a proposal to the government to select the strategic partner. Upon the Serbian government’s decision to select the strategic partner, the working group will negotiate with the chosen strategic partner to conclude the contract. Following negotiations, the group will submit a report to the government proposing the conclusion of an agreement with the strategic partner selected.
Offers will be evaluated based on general participation criteria and special criteria, which will rank applications according to a points-earned system. The requirements aim to ensure that the strategic partner has demonstrated the technical and financial capacity to implement the project. Applicants are required to provide proof that they have successfully developed or constructed at least 25,000 MW of energy projects, an annual turnover for the past three years of at least five billion dollars per year, employment of more than 5,000 personnel, and a certain proportion and structure of professional staff, subject to other special criteria.
By Ognjen Colic, Partner, Gecic Law