Renewables can Help Kosovo Break From Coal-Powered Past: IEEFA

Strong performance by its first large-scale wind and solar farms shows that Kosovo can exploit falling renewables costs to move away from fossil fuel.

Strong performance by the first large-scale wind and solar farms in Kosovo shows the coal-dominated, Western Balkan country can exploit falling renewables costs and green lending appetite to align better with a low-carbon European transition and reduce losses from stranded fossil fuel assets.

According to a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Kosovo has multiple opportunities to move beyond coal, which provided 95 percent of its electricity last year. It can close the oldest of its two coal plants; boost building efficiency to reduce crippling energy losses; strengthen electricity distribution networks; improve interconnection with its neighbours; and conduct electricity market reforms.

Kosovo has traditionally relied upon lignite, a low-grade form of coal, because of large reserves. But the World Bank and U.K.-listed Contour Global have withdrawn financial support for a new lignite power plant, citing its high cost compared with renewables. The withdrawal reflects how new coal plants are no longer economically viable in Europe, and the USD 2 billion price tag for the proposed Kosova e Re Power Plant (KRPP) makes it highly unlikely that the project could proceed as a state-owned project.

“The country must move beyond coal to secure its energy future,” said Arjun Flora, co-author. “This will include meeting pan-European standards on carbon emissions and air quality, as well as adopting a rapidly rising carbon price so it can ultimately join the European Union”.

“Stranded asset risk is very real in Kosovo,” Flora said. “We have seen European utilities issuing massive, repeated write-downs on coal assets and scrambling to sell or close power plants, as EU member states issue coal exit dates. Poland is a warning, as the EU’s most coal-dominated nation, where the chief executive of the country’s biggest energy company PGE recently warned of the threat of bankruptcy.”

“Data from Kosovo’s new wind and solar projects show capacity factors that beat the UK average for onshore wind; and exceed those for solar in Germany, Europe’s largest producer. This should silence the old argument that Kosovo has weak renewable energy resources.”

Kosovo Renewables

PC: IEEFA

IEEFA estimates electricity demand will rise 20 percent during the decade from the current 6,000 GWh, driven by increasing incomes and the growing electrification of the energy sector. The projected increase will require the generation of an additional 1,200GWh every year by 2030.

Despite its promising future, Kosovo should take additional steps to ensure a secure electricity supply, including supporting consumers who use rooftop solar to generate power; and establishing a demand-side response (DSR) market that signs agreements with energy-intensive users to reduce demand when required.

“It may make sense for Kosovo to leapfrog directly past gas, to a renewables-based, energy-efficient economy,” said report co-author Gerard Wynn. “But this will require investment. As one of Europe’s poorest, most carbon-intensive countries, it is only fair that European countries and multilateral development banks support this transition.”

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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