Serbian government solar power deal prompts questions from NGO

NEWS 02.08.2021 18:06
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Source: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer

The Serbian government signed an agreement to build with the US UGT Renewables LLC to set up a total of 2,000 hectares of solar panels prompting a wathcdog NGO to question the way that company was chosen for the project.

The agreement was signed by Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic and the American company’s Financial Director Peter Goodall, the ministry said in a press release. The plan is to build solar plants at 10 sites covering a total of 2,000 hectares to produce one gigawatt of power a year to meet about three percent of Serbia’s power needs. Also present at the signing ceremony was President Aleksandar Vucic who said that the project is the start of a new era in the production of clean energy and is crucial to the country’s economic development. “The production of electricity from solar panels will reduce carbon dioxide emmissions by 1.9 million tons a year,” he said adding that Serbia produces 51 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Just hours after the agreement was signed, the Coalition for Oversight of Public Finances called the president to explain how that American company was selected to build the solar farms. The NGO called Vucic to remember that projects can be awarded through public competition not only in direct deals with the government. It said that there are potential domestic investors who would like to take part in renewable energy source projects.

The NGO also asked where in the Constitution does it say that the president can promote and lobby on behalf of foreign companies.