Ugljevik III lignite power plant, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ugljevik III near Bijeljina in Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was until recently promoted by Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov’s Comsar Energy.
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It was planned to consist of 2 x 300 MW units which would take lignite from the open cast mines at Delici, Peljave-Tobut, Baljak and part of Ugljevik-Istok, but the project’s future is now uncertain.
The initial plan was for the plant to be built by the China Power Engineering and Consulting Group Corporation (CPECC). China Development Bank representatives were present at the signing of an agreement between CPECC and the Republika Srpska authorities, indicating that the bank may be interested in financing, however this was never confirmed and media reports indicate that CPECC has dropped out of the project.
In July 2017 the project seemed to reach a dead end when the Supreme Court of the Republika Srpska Entity cancelled the environmental permit based on a court challenge by the Center for Environment from Banja Luka.
However, the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology responded by issuing another permit without repeating the environmental impact assessment process. This second permit was also challenged in court by the Center for Environment, but the process was never concluded because the permit was annulled due to a complaint to the Energy Community.
The complaint was made in December 2014 because the environmental impact assessment was missing key information and the data on likely emissions of SO2, NOx and dust were false.
This led to the Energy Community opening a dispute settlement procedure, which in November 2018 resulted in Bosnia and Herzegovina agreeing not to use the environmental permit, and officially annulling it in June 2019.
Ugljevik III is also currently under examination by the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee due to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s failure to notify neighbouring countries about the plant’s transboundary impacts.
In August 2018, local media reported that Comsar was threatening to give up the project unless an extension of the concession from 30 to 45 years was granted, together with a reduction of the capacity from 600 MW to 350 MW, because the plant would otherwise be unprofitable.
In June 2019 it was reported that Republika Srpska’s state-owned electricity company, Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), planned to buy off Comsar Energy’s concession for Ugljevik III. The likely cost has been cited at around EUR 90 million. Quite why ERS would buy off the concession rather than the government simply annulling it is far from clear. As of January 2020, no official information is available as to the current status of the concession.