The focus on coal, a barrier towards energy transition in Kosovo

Pristina, June 4, 2018 - In the frame of the Kosovo Sustainable Development Week, within Balkan Green Foundation, the Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development organized a conference on "Energy Transition in Kosovo," where it was discussed about the energy system in Kosovo, the goal towards a sustainable development by increasing the incorporation of renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency. The conference was divided into two discussion panels; where with relevant local and international stakeholders it was discussed about the potential, challenges and benefits of maximizing the energy and renewable energy efficiency.

Participants in the first panel were Dirk Buschle from the Vienna Energy Community Secretariat, Dardan Sejdiu from the Parliamentary Committee for Economic Development, Kai Hofmann from GIZ, and Martin Schön-Chanishivili from BGF's partner organization, Germanwatch.

Along the discussions in the panel, it was said that Kosovo must radically change the way of energy production and achieve targets under the Energy Community Treaty. Kosovo has the potential to include alternative sources of energy production and it is necessary to explore all renewable energy sources that enable decentralization of energy generation and diversification of energy sources. It was also noted that the energy transition in the country foresees longer-term planning, and that local context planning is important, so the implementation of policies and laws in the sector in question should be properly implemented.

Special emphasis in the discussion panel was given to the signed agreement for the construction of TPP "Kosova e Re", where it was said that as such, this TPP does not reflect the direction that Kosovo must take to develop the energy sector, especially when considering the problems which will be presented in the environmental and social aspect, as well as on the road towards European Integration of Kosovo. Therefore, it was emphasized that although Kosovo is a country with great potential for energy transition, building new coal-fired capacities presents obstacles to the inclusion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in the energy mix.

Following the panel discussions, the conference called upon the Secretariat to issue a public position on compliance of "Kosova e Re" Commercial contracts with Kosovo’s legal framework, the Energy Community Treaty legal framework, and the EU energy policies.

Further, the benefits of the energy transition in Kosovo were highlighted, such as the creation of new businesses, new jobs, growth and economic development in the country, intensification of regional cooperation, and the stabilization of rural communities.

Although the Minister of Economic Development, Valdrin Lluka was invited as a panelist at the country's largest Sustainable Development Conference, the Minister rejected the participation with the justification that he did not want to appear to be the only supporter of the New Power Plant.

Further, in an interview with Jeta Xharra, Dirk Buschle from the Vienna Energy Community Secretariat said that "State aid is an element related to the issue of an open and a regional market – markets need to be created through company’s behavior and they should not be regulated. Companies should compete for making best offers to citizens. Now, if Kosovo supports one company and gives it an advantage – this distorts competition, and this goes to the disadvantage of the customers. And the customer is going to pay the price. In the case of Kosova e Re Power Purchase Agreement, the initial finding is that the protection against risks of the investors is so high, that it needs to be justified. The other aspect is the price – there is a maximum price being agreed in connection with the agreement. This price is higher than the current market prices. We believe that the market in the future, and we have to bear in mind that this a 20 year agreement, will be more open, there will be better choices for the customer, more regional cooperation – and to lock in into this situation through this PPA is one risky undertaking."

The second discussion panel, entitled "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources," was composed by Nezir Myrtaj, MED, Avni Sfishta from GIZ, Pëllumb Gjinolli from GET Technology, Venera Demukaj from RIT Kosovo, and Anes Jusic from EBRD.

Throughout the discussions it was emphasized that Kosovo should focus on investments in energy efficiency as an additional source of energy, in promoting energy from renewable sources and on the European integration agenda. Further, according to panelists, renewable energy and energy efficiency provide concrete opportunities that Kosovo needs to follow in solving the barriers present in the energy sector. It also mentioned the need to provide opportunities and prioritize energy sources in the country's energy development agenda, where it was said that investments in RES and EE will generate reliable energy expenditure savings and provide multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.

Further, it was also discussed about policies on promoting efficiency and renewable resources as instruments in the energy transition and local institutions should see this process as indispensable for stabilizing the energy sector in the country. The focus was also on the importance of setting up the Energy Efficiency Fund, setting energy efficiency targets and achieving them, developing energy services market and other energy efficiency measures. Further, the topic of the panel was discussed also from the academic point of view, where it was noted that it is important to invest in science and innovation, education of new generations, and intensification of the role that education has in this process.

The Kosovo Sustainable Development Week is organized for the first time in Kosovo as a cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo / the European Union Office, the German Government (GIZ) and BGF/KOSID.

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