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Capacities And Energy Potential Of Thermal-Mineral Springs

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The challenge of fostering sustainable development cannot be met without the fundamental transformation of global energy systems. Climate change has brought new reasons to challenge the energy policy in order for the environment to be sustained. When sector distribution of GHG emission is taken into consideration, energy sector has the biggest share (82%). Fossil fuel-fired electric power plants are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. European Union (EU), within its energy policy, used the 2010/31 Directive to present the following goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries by 2020, a 20% improvement of energy efficiency by 2020, a 20% increase in share of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The power generation from renewable energy resources has become increasingly important in the world. Political, economic and environmental reasons, as well as the growing need for a more intensive use of existing energy resources, require that Serbia develops new energy sources and achieve energy efficiency. The legal framework in Serbia aims to follow EU directives on renewable energy sources and the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto and EU directives in many ways contribute to the renewable energy development in the Balkans. Even though the wider use of renewable energy sources is promoted by national, integral and sectoral strategies and planning documents, surprisingly few geographical research papers focus on purely energy issues, given the strong link between geographic science and energy. Due to the global increase in the number of inhabitants and the rise in standard of living, there is a growing demand for electricity. For a number of years now, Serbia has an energy deficit, which is growing.

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With an increase in fossil fuel energy consumption, conventional energy reserves are minimized and conditions and environmental quality worsened. In order to reduce CO2 emissions and protect the environment, the use of renewable energy sources needs to be increased in relation to fossil fuel energy.

Thermal-mineral (TM) springs can be significant renewable energy sources, which can be directly used or converted into other forms of energy. Thus, the heating costs would be reduced, and geothermal energy would become an alternative to fossil fuel energy and it would occupy a significant place in the energy balance, ensuring the supply of electricity. Geothermal is a special power generation resource compared to other renewable energy source and technologies, and its main advantage is ability to be tapped 24h a day without interruption. It is also cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but historically has been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries.

Serbia is extremely rich in geothermal resources. The number of natural TM springs with a temperature higher than 15°C in Serbia reaches approximately 240. Apart from the Pannonian Basin, there are 159 natural TM springs. In Serbia, 128 hydrogeothermal drillholes were drilled, i.e. 81 are in Pannonian basin and 47 in other provinces. The total flow rate of TM springs is about 4700 l/s, and in the territory of central Serbia it amounts to 4000 l/s. 90% of all TM springs are located up to 600 m above sea level. Of the total number, about 60% are TM springs with temperatures from 20°C to 40°C, about 20% are those with temperatures from 30°C to 40°C and about 20% are those springs with temperatures higher than 40°C. Springs with the highest temperatures are located in Vranjska Spa (96oC), Jošanička Spa (78oC), Sijarinska Spa (76oC), Kuršumlijska Spa (68oC) and Novopazarska Spa (54°C).

In Serbia, the concentration of TM springs on the Kopaonik mountain and in its suburbs is noticeable. The occurrence of deep faults and geological structures led to the appearance of a large number of TM springs in the tourist region of Kopaonik. In this region with high tourist traffic, significant build-up of accommodation capacities and tourism infrastructure, the use of geothermal energy for heating the buildings as well as for therapeutic and sports-recreational purposes, would reduce heating costs and positively affect the environment.

The main objective of the study is to determine the capacity, heat power and energy potential of 19 TM springs in 4 spas (Jošanička, Bruska, Lukovska and Kuršumlijska), Kopaonik tourist regions, in order to present the possibilities for their direct use and replacement of fossil fuels. This study supports the hypothesis that TM springs located in the Kopaonik tourist region have considerable capacity, as well as heat power and energy potential. The results indicate the possibility of direct use of renewable energy from TM springs and replacement of fossil fuels, which reduces CO2 emissions and positively affects the quality of the environment.

Geothermal investigations in Serbia began in 1974, after the first world oil crises. Numerous research has been carried out in order to determine the potentials of geothermal energy in Serbia. Preliminary estimates of national geothermal potential were determined, with specific concrete studies, where certain parts of Serbia or only a certain number of TM springs (representative ones) were considered. In some studies, the focus was on the amount of geothermal energy used, while in the other focus was on the assessment of the energy potential (heat power and energy) of TM springs. The first preliminary assessment of geothermal potential was carried out in 1975 for the central part of Serbia and Kosovo and in 1985 for the northern part of Serbia (Vojvodina). In the period after 1975, numerous estimates of the geothermal potential of certain areas were carried out: for the area Avala-Kosmaj-Bukulja-Rudnik , for the area of Srem and Mačva , for Vojvodina. The first assessments of geothermal resources in the entire area of Serbia were made in 1989. After 1990, Serbia went through an economic blockade (1991-2000) , which was the cause of the lack of further research related to the geothermal potential and possibilities of using geothermal energy. The re-launch of research focused on geothermal potential and the possibility of using geothermal energy, after 2000, is conditioned by global trends and EU directives. Milivojević and Martinović in 2000, 2005 and 2010 give an overview of the current research, the current state of the use of geothermal energy and indicate the possibilities for future use.

In 2003, the book was published on mineral, thermal and thermal-mineral waters of Serbia. A large number of studies are focused on the hydrogeothermal resources of spa resorts in Serbia , hydrogeothermal resources of Serbia [13], and the utilization of thermal waters in Serbian spa resorts. A review of the total available heat capacity of geothermal resources that were active in 2014 and that were used directly or with the help of heat pumps for heating, was given in 2015. Some studies also relate to the promotion of geothermal energy in Serbia. Recent research devotes special attention to determining the energy potential (heat power and energy potential) of the TM source and was carried out at the regional level, Raška region , and local level, for the municipality of Kuršumlija , so they are more detailed and precise. Depending on the survey thoroughness and the number of TM springs analyzed, different values have been obtained. Below are the summary results of the above research.

The usable potential of renewable energy sources in Republic of Serbia is significant and estimated to 5.6 Mtoe per year, of which about 0.2 Mtoe (8.37 PJ-8373.60000 TJ) refers to the existing geothermal sources. Serbia is among the top 36 countries in the world when it comes to the estimated capacity of geothermal energy. Geothermal systems in the territory of Serbia have the estimated potential of geothermal energy of about 400×106 toe. Geothermal energy in Serbia has been used in the amount of 104.5 MWt, which amounts to 1714 TJ/year, of which 24.1 MWt is in the Pannonian basin, although its geothermal potential is much higher. These values can be considered pretty low since Serbia is considered to be a “rich” country, regarding the geothermal potential. The total heat capacity of all hydrogeothermal drillholes in Serbia is about 188 MWt, where 80.3 MWt were obtained in Pannonian basin. The total heat capacity (power) of all natural TM springs in Serbia and hydrogeothermal drillholes (wells) is about 320 MWt.The use of heat pumps has become popular in Serbia during the last few years. There are over 700 heat pumps installed throughout Serbia with a total capacity of 11 MWt, which amounts to 88.45 TJ/year in 2013. It is mostly used for heating commercial and residential buildings in cities such as Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis. In Serbia, the total estimated heat power of groundwater whose use requires the use of heat pumps is about 2300 MW. The total heat power (capacity) of TM springs that are directly used, including heat pumps, amounts to 115.5 MWt (104.5 MWt + 11 MWt).The most usual uses of geothermal energy in Serbia are the traditional ones: balneology and recreation. In Serbia nowadays there are 59 spas that use TM water for balneology, sport and recreation. TM waters are also bottled by nine mineral water bottling companies. The direct use of geothermal energy for space heating or power generation is in its initial stage and very modest in relation to its potential capacity. Geothermal energy utilization for heating, as well as in agriculture and industrial processes is present but only at a few locations. Additional (multipurpose) use of TM water heat energy is practiced in several spa resorts of Serbia: Vranjska, Sijarinska, Ribarska, Selters, Niška, and Prolom. It is mainly used for the heating of rehabilitation centers (in Vranjska, Niška, Ribarska and Sijerinska Spa) and hotels (in Vranjska, Niška, Ribarska, Sijerinska and Prolom Spa). In addition, in the Sijerinska Spa it is used for the dehydration of fruits and vegetables, and in Vranjska Spa for heating industrial (textile industry) and agricultural buildings (farms and greenhouses).


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