Environment

Kopač: EU won’t extend deadline for closure of thermal power plant Pljevlja

Kopac EU extend deadline closure thermal power plant Pljevlja

Photo: Parliament of Montenegro

Published

February 11, 2021

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Published:

February 11, 2021

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As Montenegro’s thermal power plant Pljevlja continued to operate after the expiration of the 20,000 hours from the opt-out mechanism, the Energy Community Secretariat may start an infringement procedure, its Director Janez Kopač said and stressed he doesn’t believe the EU would agree to extend the period.

Montenegro’s only thermal power plant Pljevlja may have spent its 20,000 operating hours already in October and it is a major issue for the country, Energy Community Secretariat’s Director Janez Kopač told lawmakers. At an online meeting with the members of the Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget, he stressed the international organization is now obligated to initiate enforcement.

The government earlier said it is negotiating on prolonging the deadline after the expiration of the said period, awarded under the opt-out mechanism for large combustion plants. Kovač acknowledged it is theoretically possible, but added that he doesn’t believe it could be done in practice.

Deadline extension is possible only in theory

The European Union is rapidly pursuing decarbonization and a coal phaseout, he pointed out. “I doubt very much that the European Council would authorize the European Commission in any way to introduce a delay for Montenegro in particular,” Kopač said as he presented the country’s progress in the implementation of regulations.

Kopač: The environmental overhaul of TPP Pljevlja must be a priority and the price of carbon allowances needs to be included in the project’s feasibility calculations

The government must send the report on Pljevlja by March to the European Environmental Agency and then it won’t be in compliance with the relevant directive, he warned. The thermal power plant’s environmental overhaul must be a priority and the price of carbon allowances needs to be included in the project’s feasibility calculations, he told the members of Parliament of Montenegro.

State-owned electricity producer Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG) operates the 225 MW facility. After the plants in the opt-out mechanism spend 20,000 hours, they must either close or be reconstructed to bring emissions in line with rules.

Kopac EU deadline closure thermal power Pljevlja
Photo: Share of renewable energy in final consumption in Montenegro (Energy Community)

Best track record in region in electricity, environmental protection

Kovač praised the government’s recent decision to annul contracts for the construction of seven small hydropower plants and added he believes the technology is “passé.”

Montenegro is the best aligned with the EU in the electricity sector and environmental protection in the Energy Community and is the only contracting party that implemented all the rules on fuel quality, the report notes and adds the share of renewable energy in final consumption is far above target. The document points to shortcomings in the field of oil and derivatives.

The Energy Community Secretariat commended the Energy and Water Regulatory Agency but also pointed to the inactivity of the Agency for Protection of Competition

Serbia and Montenegro have the lowest shares of cross-border power transmission capacity offered for trading in the Western Balkans, 40%, while the minimum for transmission system operators in the EU is 70%, Kopač added.

The secretariat said the Energy and Water Regulatory Agency (REGAGEN) of Montenegro and its North Macedonian counterpart have the best capacity and that they are the most active in the region. On the other hand, the Agency for Protection of Competition has so far failed to examine suspicious agreements and cases of unfair market dominance and it never blocked state aid in the energy sector, according to the presentation.

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