North Macedonia’s state-owned utility Elektrani na Severna Makedonija (ESM) said it would build four solar photovoltaic power plants at its exhausted coal mines in the REK Bitola energy complex.
ESM intends to install solar PV facilities with a total capacity of 280 MW, which is an expansion of the initial plan for three power plants with an overall capacity of 160 MW. The 650 MW Bitola coal power plant, the largest in the country, is planned to be replaced with solar and gas-fired plants. Last week North Macedonia inaugurated its first solar park on an abandoned coal mine, in Oslomej.
According to the updated plan, ESM intends to construct a 20 MW power plant very close to the Bitola power plant. A consultant picked by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has prepared a conceptual design for the facility, and now the preparation of technical specifications and tender documentation for the selection of a contractor is underway, the utility said.
ESM has expanded its previous plan to install three PV facilities with a total capacity of 160 MW
A 60 MW PV facility will be built at the abandoned Suvodol mine. A tender is underway to select the consultant for the preparation of the feasibility and environmental studies. Germany’s KfW Development Bank provided the funds.
A 100 MW solar park will also be built at the location of the Suvodol mine, while the site for the fourth one, with an installed capacity of 100 MW, is at the Brod-Gneotino mine.
The company is continuing to prepare for the construction of a 250 MW gas-fired power plant
Preparations are also underway for the construction of a gas power plant in REK Bitola, with a capacity of 250 MW, which will provide electricity and heat for Novaci, Mogila and Bitola. A district heating pipeline from REK Bitola to these three settlements is currently under construction.
All the said projects are part of the energy transition of REK Bitola, aimed at replacing coal in the production of electricity within the next decade, ESM said, adding that employees from REK Bitola would be trained to work in the new facilities.
In addition to ESM’s projects, private company DTPU Mej grup is preparing to install a 50 MW solar power plant in the municipality of Novaci.
Of note, Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi said last week that North Macedonia’s coal phaseout and the switch to renewables would be completed in ten years. The government earlier said it would finish the coal phaseout by 2027.