Ten hydropower plants on the River Ibar, Serbia

Well-organised local activists from Kraljevo managed to prevent the project of building ten small HPP on the river Ibar.

In March 2009, the Serbian electricity company JP Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) and Italian company Seci Energy S.p.A. signed a cooperation agreement for a construction of 10 hydroelectric power plants (HPP) on the River Ibar in Serbia including territories of the two municipalities Kraljevo and Raska. As soon as the first news of the HPP project appeared, the local non-governmental organizations, recreational users (kayak club, hiking club) and fishermen established an association “Kraljevacki ekoloski forum” to oppose the project implementation. The association argues that damming of the water by constructing HPP would lead to increased ecosystem pollution by sediment accumulation and therefore endanger local biodiversity. The project would also put under hazard the fortress of Maglic, a historical-cultural monument under national protection, and make it impossible to maintain sport activities, such as the Annual European Kayak Championship. However, not all of the people were against the project. The citizens of Ušće village have seen the opportunity for economic benefits from new potential jobs in the HPPs. However, the association was supported by the Kraljevo village mayor at that time as well by professionals of the communal drinking water company that warned about the possible project's hazard for the drinking water supply of the municipality of Kraljevo. In April 2010, the association delivered a petition signed by 1000 citizens of Kraljevo to the municipal authority asking for the project cancellation. However, in July same year the EPS and Seci Energy S.p.A. established the shared company 'Ibarske hidroeletrane' doo. In 2011, the association kept on lobbying against the project and delivered another petition, this time with 2500 signatures. In July 2011 the Seci Energy S.p.A., 'Ibarske hidroelektrane' doo and National Agency for Spatial Planning signed an agreement to create a common special strategy for the region regarding the 10 HPP on river Ibar (Spatial Plan) and develop a strategic environmental impact assessment (SEIA) of the project. In October same year, the Italian economy minister Paolo Romani and Serbian energy minister Milutin Mrkonjic signed a strategic partnership between the two countries in the renewable energy sector, that implies importing electricity produced from renewables in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and transported through the marine energy cable via Montenegro. This agreement was one of the steps of the Italian government strategies to reach the EU goals for 2020 of 17% energy consumption from renewable sources. The 10 HPP project includes a 10 years exclusive use right to the newly formed company 'Ibarske hidroelektrane' doo and allows export of 100% of produced electricity to Italy. The electric power from Serbia will have a price of 150 euros per kWh. The public debate on the Spatial Plan and presentation of the projects SEIA was conducted in March 2012 when the association pointed on negative effects of the project on the river Ibar. The citizens also claimed that according to the Kyoto protocol from 2014 Serbia would have to pay for the contamination originated in production of “green energy” for Italy. Despite this, the Spatial Plan was adopted. In 2012 the HPP project on river Ibar was marked by the Serbian government as a national project of strategic importance. In December 2013, 'Ibarske hidroelektrane' doo requested for approval of the project's environmental impact assessment study in a public debate in City Hall of Kraljevo. Up to now there is no information on how and if the open debate was held, if the EIA was approved, nor if any construction or energy permits issued. Besides, it is not known how the project will be funded.
Basic Data
NameTen hydropower plants on the River Ibar, Serbia
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Construction of 10 run-of-river HPP in the length of 65km of the River Ibar. The dams would be 12-15 m high, with installed discharge of Qinst = 100 m3/s, average annual output of E = 418.5 GWh/year (generally varying between 300 and 500 GWh), and total installed power of Ninst = 103.15 MW, which represents 1% of current total capacity of Republic of Serbia.
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Project Area (in hectares)44,600
Level of Investment (in USD)385,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population7,500-8,000
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesSeci Energy S.p.A. from Italy - The Italian company from the Maccaferri group. Main investor, with 51% of annuity in Ibarske hidroelektrane doo
JP Elektroprivreda Srbije EPS (EPS) from Serbia - The Electric Power Industry of Serbia, the biggest electricity company in Serbia. Main investor, with 49% of annuity in Ibarske hidroelektrane doo
Ibarske hidroelektrane doo from Serbia - A joint venture, 51% of annuity belong to Seci Energia and 49% to EPS
Hidrocentrale d.o.o. Krusevac from Serbia - In charge of the project
Institute "Jaroslav Černi", Belgrade from Serbia - Institute for the development of water resources. Author of EIA
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Mining and Energy of Republic of Serbia; Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; Agency for Spatial Planning of the Republic of Serbia; Municipality of city Kraljevo; The Italian Ministry of Economic Development
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNGO’s Association “Kraljevacki ekoloski forum”; Ekopokret “Ibar”; “braNE na Ibru”: http://www.branenaibru.net76.net/; Kayak club Ibar; Vojvodjanska zelena inicijativa: http://www.vojvodjanskazelenainicijativa.org.rs/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFishermen
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Air pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesThe association demanded cancellation of the project and have suggested investigating the possibilities to produce electricity from wind energy in the region instead of investing in the dams on the River Ibar. A group of citizens of Kraljevo called on their rights to referendum in which they would decide on the project.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project leaders pointed out touristic capacity of the accumulation, opening of new jobs in the HPPs construction and operation, economic benefit to all citizens of Serbia, assuring that the project will not have negative impact on environment, particularly on the quality of drinking water. Most importantly, the project was marked as strategically important on national level and it is part of the strategic partnership in energy sector between Serbia and Italy. However, the contract signed by Seci and EPS have been riddled with many irregularities. It seems that the activists have managed to stop the project as there is no information on its development since December 2013.
Sources and Materials

Lista projekata od znacaja za energetiku i zastitu zivotne sredine
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Prostorni plan za reku Ibar
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Prostorni plan podrucja posebne namene
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Uredba o prostornom planu za reku Ibar
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AdriaticIPA Italy-Serbia, Agreement for Ibar river power stations
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Balkan Insight 27.10.2011. Serbia and Italy sign energy deal
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Blog (serbian)
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Blic 28.04.2010. Tuzbama protiv centrala na Ibru
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Press 07.05.2010. Kraljevo se bori da sacuva Ibar
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Politika 04.07.2010. EPS I Seci Energia osnovali preduzece
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B92 04.07.2010. EPS gradi HE uprkos protestima
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Politika 16.10.2010. Hidroelektrane na Ibru
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Institut Jaroslav Cerni- Hydroelectric power plants on river Ibar
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BLIC 11.02.2011. U planu jos 10 HE na Ibru
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Blic 16.07.2011. Potpisan ugovor o izradi prostornog plana posebne namene
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Press 09.03.2012. Predstavljanje planskih dokumenata o HE na Ibru
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Kraljevacke vesti 09.03.2012. Zustra rasprava o branama na Ibru
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RTS 10.04.2012. Nove hidroelektrane na Ibru
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Pitanja vezana za ibarske HE
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Blic 26.03.2011. Peticijom protiv elektrana na Ibru
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Ministero Ambiente Italia
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Energetska pljačka:Pare plove od Ibra sve do Tibra (VIDEO)
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Niču hidroelektrane u zaštićenim zonama u JIE
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Media Links

Documentary movie by Vojvodjanska zelena inicijativa (Serbian)
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FOX Television news (Serbian)
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Kraljevčani neće hidroelektrane na Ibru! NVO "Eko Ibar"
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Zelena patrola na delu - S02E12 - Kraljevo - Reka Ibar
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Other Documents

Fortess Maglic on Ibar river One of the HPP will be built near fortess Maglic historicaliy important site
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10 HPPs on The River Ibar The image shows planned locations for 10 run-of-river HPPs on The River Ibar
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Veseli spust (Happy Raft) on the River Ibar The River Ibar is fast river, which provides the potential for water sport and tourism activities such as Veseli spust (Happy Raft) and The Annual Kayak Championship
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update11/07/2016