August 8, 2018 Read More →

On the blogs: German study sees viable transition to renewable power generation in Kosovo

Not only is an energy transition technically possible, given the country’s great potentials in wind and solar, as well as excellent options for connections to Albanian hydropower. An energy transition even is a necessity in order to reduce CO2 emissions, improve air quality and open up economic and social opportunities for Europe’s youngest country.

The study shows that there are solutions for all kinds of technical challenges connected to a phase-in of renewables. Economically, the key challenge will be to lower the high financing costs for renewables projects in Kosovo. Additionally, the legal basis has to be adjusted to ensure a long-term planning perspective for investors. All in all, the study shows that the greatest obstacle for the Kosovan energy transition will be the political mindset: Up till now, there is a political bias in favour of lignite as opposed to renewables. Yet renewables would pose a sustainable and promising solution for a well interconnected western Balkan, since the countries’ potentials complement each other well in terms of fluctuating wind and solar energy, as well as the controllable generation of power generation from hydro.

Security of supply and resources at hand are the key arguments for an ongoing and intense use of coal and, basically, against a fast energy transition. But in times of decreasing costs for renewables generation and the massive pull-out of investors and insurance companies from fossil fuel projects, Kosovo will most likely be suspected to “stranded investments” if it keeps clinging to lignite. As the 2017 SEERMAP Study shows, conventional power plants will lose their ability to compete, once an effective CO2 price has been established. A scenario which is very likely during the investment cycle of a power plant.

The study emphasizes an apparent challenge for the Balkans on the whole. The region’s energy sector is heavily reliant on coal – in 2017, 37 power plant blocs were active in five countries and 13 new plants are being planned throughout the region of south-eastern Europe, many of them with Chinese investment. Kosovo in particular is the “lignite champion” in the region, generating 97% of its electricity through lignite.

At the same time, Kosovo faces diverse social, economic and political challenges, which are symptomatic for the region: Unemployment rates reach 30% and 56% amongst young citizens, respectively; energy efficiency is insufficient (30% in the energy transmission grid alone); and the country is not officially recognized by Serbia, one of its most important neighbors.

Thus, a successful and regionally integrated Kosovo energy transition can serve as a best practice example for the entire region.

More: Kosovo: Energy transition feasible despite 97% lignite fired-generation?

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