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Winter power crisis threatens Serbia

DECREPIT POWER supply infrastructure in Serbia threatens to plunge the war-ravaged state into renewed humanitarian crisis next winter, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

International aid and investment enabled Serbia's electricity generation and supply industry to survive last winter's demand.

But this level of funding is not expected to be enough to avert a crisis next year.

The OCHA report into Serbia's energy sector says that decrepit generation, transmission and distribution systems can only deliver 80% of the basic energy needs at present.

Demand from private homes, schools, hospitals and industry means that an even larger shortfall is expected next winter unless repairs start. At least £31M is needed for urgent overhauls of existing plant. A further £25M is required to finance imports of 2,400GWhr of electricity while the work is carried out.

The report highlights new commercial strategies being adopted by Serbia's government.

Ministers, it adds, want to privatise state-owned electricity and energy companies, but fear that investors will be put off until at least £350M worth of repairs have been carried to obsolete and war-damaged infrastructure.

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