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Coal in the Balkans

Most EU countries are giving up building new coal plants and finding ways to close their existing ones. In contrast, countries across southeast Europe plan new lignite power plants during the next few years.

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These plans starkly conflict with the Paris Agreement's aim of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees celsius. They also come with a slew of financial and legal risks for investors and devastating health impacts for locals.

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In contrast to the EU, Western Balkans’ coal investments still heavily outweigh wind – but for how long?
Blog post | May 27, 2016

By the numbers: where will energy come from in the western Balkans?
Blog post | March 19, 2015


A new breed of investors

Toolkit for coal campaigners in Turkey and the Balkans


In 2013 the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank virtually halted lending for new coal power plants.

Most planned plants are due to be financed by Chinese state banks – ExIm Bank and the China Development Bank (CDB).

An overview over all coal investors can be found in Bankwatch’s campaign toolkit Kings of Coal.

Read more

Balkan energy projects with Chinese involvement - state of play
Briefing | May 5, 2016


Coal is not cheap - financial and legal risks

The cost of the planned Western Balkans plants alone would be at least EUR 3.8 billion – money that would be better spent on energy efficiency and developing sustainable renewable energy.


Stricter environmental and state-aid rules

Some planned coal projects are set to breach legislation that will come into force already in 2018.

More details on Energy Community regulations >>

Under the Energy Community Treaty (more here >>), signed by all Western Balkans countries, Ukraine and Moldova, all new coal plants have to be in line with EU environmental standards and countries must follow EU state aid rules, prohibiting the still common subsidies to the coal industry.

Slideshow: Risky coal subsidies

Read more

Risks for coal and electricity investments in the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova due to state-aid rules
Study & press briefing | June 8, 2015

Planned Balkan coal plants may breach EU pollution limits
Euractiv | June 30, 2014


Study shows risk of stranded assets

Several Western Balkan countries have ambitious plans to increase their electricity generation and become regional energy hubs. But will there be a demand for all the available electricity?

Stranded assets in the western Balkans – report on the long-term economic viability of new export capacities
Study | March 19, 2015