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Kopač: Obsession with coal threatens to push BiH back deeper into past

Kopac Obsession coal BiH

Photo: Energy Community Secretariat, video

Published

March 8, 2021

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Published:

March 8, 2021

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Fixed stimulus tariffs for solar power aren’t applied anywhere anymore except in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and in Kosovo*, Energy Community Secretariat Director Janez Kopač said and called on the introduction of auctions and the rejection of coal, adding BiH’s obsession with the fuel is threatening to push it back deeper into the past.

There is no change in the energy sector on the state level, though there has been some progress on the entity level in BiH, Energy Community Secretariat Director Janez Kopač asserted. Commenting in an interview with Nezavisne on the energy transition, he stressed the country must alter the laws and continue to promote clean sources.

The current system is “practically preventing” investments in green energy, he said and pointed out the fixed tariffs are obsolete when it comes to supporting the installation of solar power systems. All countries, including Albania and Montenegro, switched to “the cheaper and more stimulative” auction system while the old model was maintained in Serbia, BiH and Kosovo*, though Serbia is abandoning it, Kopač underscored. Furthermore, the continuation of the obsession with coal in BiH is threatening to push the country deeper into the past, he said.

Access to funds depends on fulfillment of obligations

The leaders of the countries of the region signed the Sofia Declaration in November, which opens the way toward a EUR 9 billion package from the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. Kopač noted the money is intended for the energy transition but also that the obligations include decarbonization by 2050 and efforts to introduce carbon pricing.

There is EUR 9 billion in the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, intended for the energy transition

Among positive news, he highlighted the new laws on the gas and electricity markets and the separation of the transmission and distribution activities in the Republic of Srpska, also commending state-owned utility Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske’s (ERS) Chief Executive Officer Luka Petrović as a man with a vision. He also said that in the Federation of BiH, “there are not many such people in the highest levels.” FBiH and the Republic of Srpska are the two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There are more good news

Kopač added the parliaments of both entities demanded a ban on the construction of small hydropower plants and that the Municipality of Banovići, which depends on a local coal mine, is now seeking help to become carbon free. Earlier there was an initiative there to build a coal-fired thermal power plant.

Expenses for carbon dioxide emissions are making the production of electricity from coal unprofitable

“The coal industry is the biggest loser in the energy transition. Traditionally, miners were always appreciated and well paid and it won’t be the case anymore. That is why we are speaking about just transition in Europe and that no one can be left behind,” he stated. The head of the Energy Community Secretariat reflected on the fact that the EU gets funds for the endeavor from the sale of CO2 emission certificates and that the price has climbed to EUR 40 per ton.

He pointed out that the electricity from the Ugljevik thermal power station would be too costly if the said expenses were added. Furthermore, Kopač claims the Federation of BiH would thus “get a headache” from the project of a new unit in the thermal power plant in Tuzla.

Regulations stuck at state level

Asked about what else is standing in the way of the energy transition, he said the law that should regulate the natural gas market is stuck for several years on the central state level. Also, the disagreements between the entities are hampering the establishment of an adequate electricity transmission system and the construction of power lines that need to connect wind and solar power plants, Kovač stressed.

In his opinion, the regulations for multistorey residential buildings must be changed as the banks hesitate to fund energy efficiency measures because of the unresolved status of the owners’ committees.

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