Speaking about renewable energy sources, solar energy certainly stands out, as one of the most ecologically optimal and healthiest ways of producing the electricity. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina is rich in natural resources, it still lags behind many European and other countries when it comes to the exploitation of solar energy. In the last five years, solar energy capacity has globally increased by approximately 60%.
The Law on Electricity of the Republic of Srpska (Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska No. 68/20) defines the general requirements and manner of realizing the power policy, power activities, the rights and obligations of market participants, the protection of electricity consumers, as well as the supervision of the application of the aforementioned law and other issues of importance for the electric power sector. Article 4 of the said Law foresees the subsidiary application of regulations governing the fields of energy, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, spatial planning and construction, trade, as well as environmental protection and concessions.
The area of renewable energy sources represents significant potential in the structure of meeting energy needs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is regulated by the Law on Renewable Energy Sources. (Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska No. 16/22) as well as the Law on Renewable Energy Sources and Efficient Cogeneration (Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska No. 39/13, 108/13, 79/15, 26/19). In addition to the above-mentioned Law, the legal regulations include other legal sources that determine and complete the procedure and approval process for the production, operation and distribution of energy in the Republic of Srpska.
In accordance with Article 7 of the aforementioned Law, plants that use renewable energy sources are classified into plants that use: energy potential of watercourses, wind energy, non-accumulated solar energy, energy obtained from biomass, energy obtained from bio-gas, landfill gas and waste water treatment plant gas, energy from geothermal sources, energy from other types of renewable sources as well as energy from several renewable sources in combination. Considering the installed power, we divide the plants into small ones, which include: hydroelectric power plants, wind power plants, solar power plants on land up to 150 kW and solar power plants placed on buildings, biomass and biogas power plants, landfill gas and gas from waste water treatment plants with an installed power of up to 500 kW, and large ones that include: wind power plants and solar power plants on the ground with an installed power of more than 150 kW up to 50,000 kW and solar power plants placed on buildings, and finally bio-gas and biomass power plants with an installed power of more than 500 kW.
The same Law regulates the necessary requirements for the operation of solar power plants in the Republic of Srpska and by looking at it, it is evident that the procedure for placing solar power plants into operation is subject to a complex procedure.
For the construction of energy plants that use solar energy, in accordance with the Law, it is necessary to obtain a concession in accordance with the regulations governing the area of concessions. The Law foresees an exception in relation to the given obligation, which refers to the construction of solar plants with photovoltaic cells with an installed power of up to 250kW on land and on the buildings but regardless of the installed power. In the Republic of Srpska, there are three concession award procedures: initiation of the procedure by the competent authority, initiative of the interested person, negotiation procedure.
For the construction of energy plants, it is necessary to obtain a Building Permit in accordance with the regulations governing the field of construction and environmental protection. The Law on Spatial Planning and Construction (Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska No. 3/16) provides for the issuance of Location Conditions for the construction of energy and other facilities for the production of electricity by the competent Ministry for Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology, except for solar plants with photovoltaic cells and other plants that use all types of renewable energy sources with an installed capacity of up to 250 Kw. The Location Conditions are the first document that has to be obtained in the process of building energy facilities, while the next step is related to obtaining of a Building Permit and Use Permit.
Due to the fact that the construction of electric power facilities can have a negative impact on people’s lives and health, it is necessary to conduct an environmental impact assessment procedure, which remains the responsibility of the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska. The preliminary environmental impact assessment is carried out before obtaining Location Conditions, while the environmental impact assessment is carried out after the acquisition of Location Conditions, all in accordance with Article 61 of the Law on Environmental Protection (Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska No. 79/15). Within 60 days from the date of receipt of the Study on Environmental Impact Assessment, the competent Ministry makes a decision – Decision on Approval or Decision on Rejection of the Study on Environmental Impact Assessment. After the completion of the mentioned procedure, and prior to obtaining the Building Permit, it is also necessary to obtain an Environmental Permit, which may be the responsibility of the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology or the body of the local self-government unit, depending on the type and power of the energy plant.
The further procedure involves the procedure of connecting to the distribution grid, which contains a series of previously completed steps that include:
- Location Consent – the first document that confirms that the electric power facility can be connected to the grid at the planned location;
- Electric Power Consent – a document that defines the power and technical conditions that the power facility must meet;
- Grid Connection Contract – contract concluded by and between the investor and the operator of the industrial plant, which defines the issues of construction of the connection, connection procedure and terms, method of payment and other issues;
- Request for temporary connection of the power plant during trial operation – submitted on the prescribed form, and functional tests of the power plant operation are performed during the trial operation;
- Agreement on access to the distribution grid – an agreement permanently defining the conditions of connection to the distribution grid;
- Request for permanent connection to the distribution grid – final phase of connection to the distribution grid;
- Declaration on the connection of the production plant – issued by the Operator of the distribution plant after the permanent connection of the power plant to the grid;
The Distribution Facility Operator approves the connection to the grid.
As a result of the previously fulfilled prerequisites, a permit for the construction of an electric power facility can finally be issued, and it is in competence of the Regulatory Commission for Energy of the Republic of Srpska (RERS). After that will be issued a permit for the performance of energy activities as the final step of the procedure. The same will be obtained for all activities of electricity production of installed capacity above 1 MW whose validity is up to 30 years.
A similar procedure is foreseen by the legislation of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the conditions of which are stipulated in the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources and Efficient Cogeneration (Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH, No. 70/13), and the Law on Electricity of the Federation of BiH (Official Gazette No. 66/13,94/ 15.54/19.1/22.64/22).
Obtaining Urban Planning Approval/Location Information is necessary. Urban Planning Approval represents an administrative legal document that establishes urban-technical and other conditions for the design and construction of a facility at the desired location. The Location Information understands an administrative legal document or a professional-technical document that represents an excerpt from the detailed spatial-planning documentation, which contains the urban-technical conditions for the planned construction. Urban Planning Approval is issued in cases where there is no detailed spatial planning documentation for the location where it is to be constructed, but in cases of existence of the same, the competent authority issues Location Information. The competent authorities are: a) Federal Ministry of Spatial Planning b) Cantonal Ministry of Spatial Planning; c) Municipal services responsible for spatial planning and urban planning; all depending on the size of the planned facility, i.e., on the planned installed power.
After the previosly described procedure, it is necessary to obtain a Building Permit and, finally, a Use Permit issued by the Federal Ministry of Spatial Planning or a ministry at the cantonal level.
As in the previously explaind in the case of the Republic of Srpska, a number of other permissions are required in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including:
- Environmental permit;
- Connection to the distribution grid or connection to the transmission grid;
- Consent to the project documentation of the Federal Ministry of Energy, Mining and Industry;
- Energy permit;
- Work permit for the performance of electric power activities;
- the procedure for obtaining incentives for the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and efficient cogeneration;
- registration of the project in the appropriate Register of Projects.
The following is the procedure for connection to the distribution grid, which requires:
- Obtaining the power consent;
- Conclusion of a contract on the arrangement of mutual relations (only in case the facility is located in a specific zone);
- Conclusion of a financing agreement (only in case the facility is located in a specific zone);
- Obtaining electrical power consent;
- Conclusion of the connection agreement.
In this case, connection to the distribution grid is approved by the Distribution System Operator.
The last step is the Work Permit for the performance of electrical industry activities, which is issued by the Regulatory Commission for Energy of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In conclusion, although from the point of view of complying with mandatory requirements, the project itself requires a complex procedure, observing from the point of view of ecology, electrical energy obtained from renewable sources, especially solar energy, represents the most satisfactory way of obtaining energy. As Bosnia and Herzegovina also recognized the importance of renewable sources and environmental protection, looking at more developed European countries, both BIH entities foresee a series of incentives for the production and consumption of electricity from renewable sources, which achieves the goals in the field of energy adopted by international agreements and strategic documents, and determined by the energy and climate plan.
Therefore, the solar power plant represents a sustainable solution and therefore represents a long-term electricity benefit as favourable electricity for the environment as it is for economic sustainability.
Author: Jelena Knezevic
E-mail: [email protected]