October 9, 2022 | Sunday

Improving security of energy supply in Kosovo – Lendita Gashi

Kosovo has been facing issues with the energy security of supply for many years given the old infrastructure inherited from the previous regime before 1999 and lack of proper maintenance over decades. The energy sector contributes to nearly 90% of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. While its lignite reserves are huge, Kosovo was not able to construct a new power plant. The existing lignite power plants (Kosovo A and B) continue to operate and they supply around 90% of the demand in the country.

Both plants require huge investments to comply with the requirements of the Energy Community for reduction of dust, NOx and SOx emissions to the limit values set in the European directives, but investments are also required to improve the reliability of the plants. At the same time Kosovo will have to apply carbon pricing mechanism which will in longterm have impact on the feasibility of the investments on the lignite power plants.

In the last few years there was a significant increase in electricity consumption in particular  in the households during the season of high demand -winter due to use of electricity for space heating. This increase of consumption was mainly due to low retail tariff which encouraged the consumers to switch to electricity use for space heating. The increase of energy efficiency standards and building energy performance certification as well as the use of renewable energy is key to reducing the consumption in the buildings. At present large building blocks are under construction with little care for energy efficiency measures,  most of the buildings with electricity based heating installations and no use of renewable energy. New policies are needed urgently to incentivise the energy efficiency measures including renewable energy like solar energy in the buildings’ energy consumption. There are financial instruments available in the market through commercial banks but there is a need to help also the lower income consumers to switch to more efficient technologies. 

The commitment undertaken as part of the Energy Community for nearly zero energy buildings in the public but also private buildings has not yet started with implementation. A strategy for boosting investments on buildings’ energy efficiency is critical and the most worthwhile. In longterm the transition will require many changes in the energy system where the consumers will play an active role. Cities need to develop sustainable development plans with focus on clean energy and transport.

The increase of district heating supply in the energy consumption is also important, there is an ongoing EU funded feasibility study for development of the district heating systems in 8 cities in Kosovo. The EU has supported with over €20mil the district heating service in Pristina through cofinancing the connection to the Kosovo B cogeneration plant and rehabilitation of the network, however the network needs to expand further to the new suburbs. In Gjakova, the EU financed heating plant with cogeneration started the operation in 2021. The new plant burns woodchips to produce heating and some electricity. Similar systems could be built in few other cities. However a sustainable supply chain of biomass needs to be established urgently in order to encourage investments on such plants. A strategy is needed for developing a clean gas/hydrogen market including the possibility for domestic production in addition to the import.   

The energy strategy should take into account the commitments made under the green deal for Western Balkans which means gradual transition to clean energy, namely renewable energy, energy efficiency and gradual coal phase out.

Lendita Gashi – Program manager for energy infrastructure, EU Office in Kosovo