The European Commission has unveiled a EUR 3.2 billion investment package to support 21 transport, digital, climate and energy connectivity projects in the Western Balkans. There are five projects in the clean energy sector, and two in the environment and climate sector, with a combined value of EUR 339 million.
It is the first major package of projects under the European Union’s ambitious Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, adopted in October 2020, the commission said. The countries of the region reached an agreement on the Green Agenda Action Plan to enable access to the funds.
The financial package comprises EUR 1.1 billion in EU grants from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance 2021-2027 (IPA III), additional bilateral contributions from EU member states and Norway, and favorable loans from international financing institutions. The EUR 3.2 billion investment package is being channeled through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), an EU-led multi-donor investment platform and the primary financial vehicle for implementing the Economic and Investment Plan in the areas of public infrastructure and private sector competitiveness.
The total project cost for the five projects endorsed in 2022 in the clean energy sector amounts to over EUR 127 million. These are the projects:
- Vau i Dejës Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant
- Oslomej 1 Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant
- Oslomej 2 and Bitola Photovoltaic Power Plants
- Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor: Serbia – Montenegro – BiH 400 kV Interconnection
- Advanced System for Remote Meter Reading.
The Vau i Dejës Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant project envisages the installation of a 12.9 MW facility at a reservoir of one of the largest hydropower plants in Albania. It will be the first medium-sized hybrid floating solar and hydropower plant and the first application of pure floats technology in the Western Balkans, the commision said.
North Macedonia will receive aid to install three photovoltaic facilities. Oslomej 1, Oslomej 2 and Bitola are going to be located on the site of the exhausted coal mine in Oslomej, and adjacent to the Bitola coal-fired plant.
The fourth project is for a segment of the Trans-Balkan Electricity Corridor, aimed at enabling a functional regional market. The corridor should connect the electricity transmission systems of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Italy. The funds were approved for a 400 kV interconnection between Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 84 km double overhead transmission line is planned to be build from Bajina Bašta in Serbia to the borders with BiH and Montenegro.
The Advanced System for Remote Meter Reading in Serbia will help the introduction of smart metering in the electricity distribution system in Serbia. The grant will be used for the first phase of smart meter deployment in Kraljevo, Čačak and Niš, the commission said.
The only endeavors in the environment and climate sector in the package are for wastewater treatment in Podgorica and Skopje.
The Podgorica Wastewater Treatment Plant will secure the collection and treatment of the wastewater generated in the Montenegrin capital in line with EU standards. A similar facility in the capital of North Macedonia will service nine of the ten municipalities in the city of Skopje and will have a capacity of 625,000 population equivalent.