Serbia is expanding green investments, seeking to spur a post-COVID recovery and build resilience against future shocks, especially for its most vulnerable citizens. To help Serbia advance its strategic goals to decarbonize the economy and include more citizens in the energy transition, the World Bank Board of Directors approved today a $50 million equivalent loan for the Scaling Up Residential Clean Energy (SURCE) Project.
The project is designed to lead to energy savings, increased comfort, and warmer homes for residents through investments in clean and efficient heating solutions and rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, in a shift away from air-polluting fossil fuels that dominate Serbia’s energy mix.
“The residential sector in Serbia has a large untapped potential for energy efficiency improvements: households account for about one-third of Serbia’s final energy consumption, with about three-quarters of the energy they consume used for heating purposes,” said Nicola Pontara, World Bank Country Manager for Serbia. “Investments required to improve energy efficiency, especially in single-family houses, where most lower-income citizens live, will lead to sizeable social, economic, and environmental benefits.”
Sustainable heating investments are expected to reach 25,000 households during the five years of the project. Some 2,500 households will receive social inclusion “top-up grants”, supporting the most vulnerable citizens, and 3,000 households are expected to shift away from traditional solid fuel heating solutions. Rooftop solar photovoltaic installations are expected to add 4MW in installed renewable energy capacity.
The project will prioritize investments in single-family houses, which tend to have poor thermal characteristics and rely on more polluting and less efficient coal and wood boilers for heating, especially in rural areas. In urban areas, among households without central or district heating access, 60 percent use firewood for heating and another 15 percent coal.
Residential heating is a major source of air pollution in Serbian cities, especially in winter months, when it accounts for more than half of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions, as the largest share of the heating needs are met by firewood and coal. A recent World Bank study on Western Balkan countries showed that energy savings above 50 percent can be achieved in single-family houses by retrofitting insulation of walls, roof and windows.