Kosovo has around 1.8 million inhabitants. Its electricity generation is almost entirely dependent on two ageing lignite plants: Kosova A (5 units with 800 MW installed) and Kosovo B (two units with 678 MW installed). The current real capacity of these plants is around 915 MW altogether. They are infamous for their contribution to air pollution and Kosova B is the highest emitter of dust out of all the coal plants in the Western Balkans.
Kosova A and Kosova B are supplied with lignite from the adjacent Sibovc Southwest and Sitnica mines. Kosovo has very large lignite resources, totalling 12.5 billion tonnes, which it claims are the second largest in Europe and fifth largest in the world. It has no oil or gas extraction and no gas import infrastructure, although it is interested in building a pipeline to connect to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
A new 500 MW lignite power plant (around 450 MW net) – Kosova e Re – has been under development for many years. Initially it was planned as a 2000 MW plant but failure to find investors has gradually lowered ambitions. Both the World Bank and EBRD have confirmed that they will not finance the plant, leaving only the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (formerly OPIC) and various export credit agencies as potential financiers. However, the project has been plagued by legal violations.
Due to the domination of lignite in Kosovo’s energy mix, it is very inflexible, and better interconnections with neighbouring countries are needed to improve the situation. A new 400 kV interconnection with Albania has been built but as of November 2019 had not started operating due to political issues between Kosovo and Serbia.
Kosovo does not have plentiful water resources like other Balkan countries, but in recent years construction of small hydropower plants has still speeded up and become controversial, as several of them are sited in protected areas. In 2018, hydropower under 10 MW only produced 2.7 per cent of Kosovo’s electricity.
Kosovo has a renewable energy target of 25 percent share in the final gross consumption of energy by 2020 according to the Energy Community Treaty. In 2017, it achieved 22.9 per cent renewable energy, putting it on track to meet its target. However, this was mostly achieved by revising data on household use of wood biomass, not by investing in renewable energy.
Kosovo’s first major wind farm, the 32 MW Kitka plant, started operating in late 2018, and in December 2019, the EBRD approved a loan for the 105 MW Bajgora plant. As of the end of 2018, Kosovo only had 7 MW of solar PV installed, even though the country has a manufacturing plant.
Different sources estimate different potential for solar and wind in Kosovo. These could be combined with Albania’s existing hydropower to make a much more flexible electricity system, and in December 2019, the two countries agreed to set up a common electricity market.
|IRENA Cost-competitive potential||581 MW
|SEERMAP Decarbonisation scenario (2050 minus 2016)||1494 MW
|SEE-SEP The EU Road scenario||2790 MW
In fact, a 2018 study by the World Bank, which had for years supported the construction of Kosova e Re, found that if taking carbon and pollution costs into account, a combination of renewables and battery storage would be the most cost-effective solution for Kosovo’s electricity sector.
Like other Energy Community members, Kosovo has an energy efficiency target of 20 percent by 2020. It has massive distribution losses – nearly 28 percent in 2018 through technical losses and non-payment (around half each). Combined with artificially high demand through poorly insulated buildings, there is enormous potential for the country to save energy.
More on coal in the Balkans
This year we are marking five years since Bankwatch engaged in air pollution work in the Balkans. Throughout these years, there was one constant in the work – the environmental dust monitor. It has become the hero of many communities and is known to every organisation in the region that works for cleaner air.
12 years and counting: Pollution control investment at Bosnia’s Ugljevik coal plant still showing no results
Upgrades to the coal power plants in the Western Balkans that would bring down sulphur dioxide emissions are rare. But even where investments have been made, they have so far failed to deliver the much-needed results.
One of the leading reasons for the extremely polluted air are the outdated and substandard coal-fired power plants in the region. The 16 plants operating in the Western Balkan countries emit as much sulphur dioxide and dust pollution as the entire fleet of coal plants in the EU.