Serbia aims for Sunday restart of unit at flood-hit power plant

SARAJEVO Fri May 23, 2014 8:13am EDT

SARAJEVO May 23 (Reuters) - A unit at the power plant that produces around half of Serbia's electricity is aiming for a Sunday restart after the worst regional flooding in living memory, opening the way for a complete restart.

A 210 megawatt (MW) coal-fired unit at the Nikola Tesla (TENT) power plant will likely restart on Sunday, Utility EPS said on Friday, after the lignite mine that supplies it was flooded.

The 4,000 MW complex has been operating at about 20 percent of capacity since May 16.

The floods left Serbia scrambling for power supplies and facing a year-long battle to drain the Kolubara open cast lignite mine.

EPS said a railway coal supply line, which had been disrupted due to flooding, delivered some 4,500 tonnes of lignite on Friday for TENT from the Kolubara open cast mine.

The utility also said it has installed a steam engine to heat up fuel oil needed for the restart of the 210 MW TENT A1 unit.

"The unit will most likely be reconnected on Sunday," an EPS spokeswoman told Reuters. "This will provide for a gradual return of other units."

TENT A plant has six units with a combined capacity of 1,650 MW.

The question remains when the Kolubara mine can return to full output and supply the 90,000 tonnes per day needed to operate TENT at full capacity.

Grid operator Elektromreza Srbije (EMS) told Reuters that Serbia's average daily power output since the floods hit has been around 67.3 gigawatt-hours (GWh), not enough to cover daily consumption of 79 GWh. Emergency imports from neighbouring countries have helped to fill the gap, mainly in peak hours.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Serbia needed to set aside between 0.5 million euros ($682,800) and one million euros per day to pay for the emergency imports.

The outages have had a ripple effect in the region, supporting spot electricity prices in central and southeastern Europe, traders said.

Hungarian peak prices for Monday delivery jumped 3 euros to 48.00 euros per MWh while Serbian spot prices traded around 1.5 euros above Hungary.

Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said Serbia will be able to meet domestic demand only when TENT A returns to the grid and output at its largest hydro power plant complex Djerdap is stabilized. [ID:n L6N0O541O] ($1 = 0.7323 Euros) (Additional reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing William Hardy)

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