Renewables

Bosnian mining city Živinice to install solar power plants with state-owned utility EPBiH

zivinice epbih solar coal mines

Photo: RMU Đurđevik

Published

May 5, 2023

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Published:

May 5, 2023

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The local authority in Živinice has joined forces with state-owned power producer Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine (EPBiH) in an initiative to install solar power plants in abandoned open pits of coal mine Đurđevik, which used to supply the nearby Tuzla thermal power plant. It could make the city in the north of Bosnia and Herzegovina the first coal-dependent area in the Western Balkans that kicks off the energy transition.

The City of Živinice, which sees the energy transition as a development opportunity, will this way demonstrate the essence of the transition: switching from fossil fuels to green energy, installing solar panels on degraded land, the opportunity for new jobs for workers in the coal sector, and securing green energy for companies to enable them to avoid paying the European Union’s CO2 border tax.

The photovoltaic projects were presented by Chief Executive Officer of EPBiH Admir Andelija, Assistant Director for Development Mustafa Musić, Acting Mayor of Živinice Began Muhić and the representatives of the Đurđevik and Kreka mines and other local employers.

The solar power plants are planned to be built at exhausted open coal pits in Đurđevik. The investment is estimated at about BAM 85 million (EUR 43.4 million).

Photovoltaic facilities could come online by the end of 2024

The six PV projects with a total capacity of 62 MW and an estimated annual production of about 90 GWh will represent the support of EPBiH to Živinice in the transition from being an area dependent on coal toward green energy, Andelija said.

The utility will soon submit requests for urban planning permits and sign a lease agreement with the Đurđevik mine, which owns the land.

Andelija: Conditions enable rapid construction

zivinice epbih solar coal mines andelija
Photo: City of Živinice

The funds will come from a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), so all preconditions were met to build rapidly, Andelija said and added the facilities could already come online late next year.

He explained the photovoltaic plants would be built in an area where there is no more coal mining, at the Višća open pit. Andelija said the representatives of EPBiH would come again very soon to Živinice, Tuzla and Lukavac for discussions about a just transition of coal areas, primarily the three communities that lean on the Đurđevik and Kreka mines.

Solar power plants will provide 62% of the electricity consumed in Živinice

Mustafa Musić revealed the power plants would be connected to the distribution network, so that the electricity would be consumed in the Živinice area. The city will get enough electricity to secure 62% of its consumption, which is especially important for local firms, he added.

In his words, the proposed facilities are especially important for export-oriented businesses. They won’t have to pay the special tax on exports to the European Union as they will obtain green certificates, Musić stressed.

The EU will start introducing a CO2 border tax in 2026 through its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism or CBAM. It will be charged for imported iron, steel, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, hydrogen and electricity if the producer didn’t pay an equivalent domestic tax. In the current setting, the carbon border tax would need to be paid for electricity and the designated goods from BiH.

Of note, the country’s government presented its draft national energy and climate plan (NECP) just last week.

Muhić: Jobs will be created

Acting Mayor Began Muhić noted that Živinice has 1,500 hectares of degraded land, left after coal mining. He said it is a significant resource for renewable energy facilities. Cooperation with EPBiH can serve as an example for other communities and local authorities to participate in fulfilling BiH’s obligations from the Paris Agreement and the Sofia Declaration, he added.

Muhić expressed the belief that jobs would be created and that employees would have the opportunity to be retrained for other professions. Živinice is the first local authority in the country that signed a memorandum on cooperation with EPBiH, he noted.

The plan is to build ten solar power plants, of which eight would be in the territory of Živinice, he said – six at the Višća site and two at the Bašigovci open pit.

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