The Government of the Federation of BiH has proposed amendments to the electricity law to suspend the issuance of permits for the construction of small hydropower plants (SHPP) with a capacity of up to 10 megawatts (MW).
The bill on amendments to the Law on electricity in FBiH, drafted by the Federal Ministry of Energy, Mining and Industry, was sent to parliament for adoption.
Nermin Džindić, the Minister of Energy, Mining and Industry, said the government promised two weeks ago that it would amend the Law on electricity in order to ban the construction of small hydropower plants.
The new regulation also defines the term “small hydropower plant”
The bill defines the term “small hydropower plant” as well as the suspension of issuance of energy permits for their construction, said Džindić.
In June 2020, the House of Representatives of the Federation of BiH passed a declaration on the protection of rivers and voted to completely ban the construction of small hydropower plants. It was said at the time that the FBiH government had three months to propose changes to the law and introduce a ban.
The FBiH government has now announced that the Federal Ministry of Energy, Mining and Industry has stated that the reasons for preparing the bill are contained in the FBiH government’s conclusion from November 2020 regarding the House of Representatives’ declaration.
Small hydropower plants can only be built on gravity-fed water supply systems
The FBiH government said the bill defines a small hydropower plant as a facility with an installed capacity of up to 10 MW.
It also specifies that the issuance of energy permits for small hydropower plants is suspended, except for those built on gravity-fed water supply systems, the government said.
The European Commission supports the 10 MW threshold
The current law on electricity in FBiH does not have a precise definition of a small hydropower plant, while the threshold for installed capacity varies from country to country. In Europe, the capacity of 10 MW is accepted as a standard, and is supported by the European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA) and the European Commission, the government said.
Of note, FBIH is the first in the region to decide to suspend the issuance of permits for the construction of small hydropower plants. In February 2021, the parliament of Republika Srpska, the other entity in BiH, adopted a declaration on river protection, which called on the government to impose a moratorium on the construction of small hydropower plants. Such a moratorium was never imposed, but a new Law on Renewable Energy Sources was adopted earlier this year, abolishing subsidies for small hydropower plants with a capacity of more than 150 kW.
In Montenegro the government has said that it will ban the construction of small hydroelectric power plants, while Albania has announced that there will be no construction of new hydropower plants on the Vjosa River.