Environment

Hydropower projects in Federation of BiH failing, KfW exits

Hydropower projects in the Federation of BiH are falling

Photo: Robert Oroz / Save the Blue Heart of Europe

Published

February 2, 2022

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Published:

February 2, 2022

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Germany’s KfW Development Bank has given up financing a 16 MW hydropower plant on the Bosna River. In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ten concessions for the construction of small hydropower plants have been annulled. A public debate on the total ban on the construction of small hydropower plants on the territory of the entity is underway.

Germany’s KfW Development Bank has confirmed that it is giving up on plans to finance the Janjići hydropower plant on the river Bosna and to grant loans for about EUR 30 million, RiverWatch – Society for the protection of rivers said. Total planned investment in the facility is about EUR 55 million.

The loan agreement between KfW and state-owned Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine (EPBIH) for the 15.75 MW Janjići hydropower plant was signed in 2014.

The Janjići local council, Eko forum Zenica, and Aarhus Centre Sarajevo filed a complaint a year ago with the bank’s competent body to reconsider the decision. Without the loan, EPBIH will most likely not be able to build the Janjići hydroelectric power plant, the complainants stated.

The Janjići local council, Eko forum Zenica, and Aarhus Center in Sarajevo filed a complaint a year ago

The hydropower plant would entail the construction of a 16-meter high dam that would flood one of the most beautiful sections of the river Bosna with a series of rapids upstream from the city of Zenica, the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign said.

Eko forum Zenica pointed out the next step is to delete the hydroelectric plant from the spatial plan. The organization has already submitted an initiative with the competent ministry.

Ten concessions for small hydropower plants annulled

The government of the Central Bosnia Canton said it terminated ten concession contracts for small hydropower plants as their operators failed to pay fees and fulfill obligations.

Concessions have been scrapped for small hydropower plants Bakovići 1, Luka, Željeznica 1 and 3, Toplice, Vileška, Majdan 2, Fojnica, Žica and Jaglinac.

Public debate on the complete ban on small hydropower plants

A public debate on proposed amendments to the Law on Electricity in the Federation of BiH, organized by the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in BiH, was held at the Mostar city hall last week.

The proponents from the environmentalist group say the law is the step forward in regulating the issues of the construction of small hydropower plants. The House of Peoples unanimously supported the draft law, which envisages the suspension of issuing energy permits for small hydroelectric plants.

The law envisages the suspension of issuing energy permits for small hydroelectric plants

The coalition said it expects the Government of the Federation of BiH and both chambers of the entity’s parliament to adopt amendments to the Law on Electricity as soon as possible and thus “uncompromisingly end the dealings with small hydroelectric plants, which threatened to destroy thousands of kilometers of rivers.”

The amendments to the law would halt the construction of 100 to 150 small hydropower plants

“The aforementioned legal changes will stop the construction of 100 to 150 small hydropower plants and save hundreds of kilometers of the last wild and drinkable rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Small hydropower plants benefit only wealthy investors, who illegally or illegitimately usurp our public goods. The local communities, as well as the scientific and professional public, independent of investors, agree on that,” the coalition pointed out.

Photo: Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in BiH

Concession fees are miserable

The coalition noted that in 2020 all 108 existing small hydropower plants in BiH participated in the total electricity production with only 2.2% or 341.02 GWh. Such facilities do not bring benefit local communities, the organization said, adding that concession fees are miserable, averaging 1% to 3% of total revenues. According to activists, more than 500 small hydropower plants are planned to be built on a total of 244 rivers in BiH.

Implementing such “ecocide projects” would prevent the development of almost all other potentials, activists say

Small hydroelectric plants are harmful projects, and their realization must be stopped, activists emphasized. They added that implementing such “ecocide projects” would prevent the development of almost all other potentials, such as tourism, agriculture, fruit growing.

Despite the legal provisions for maintaining the so-called biological minimum, i.e. environmentally acceptable flow, the riverbeds have been dry for most of the year due to the operation of small hydroelectric plants, the coalition said.

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