Electricity

Kosovo* imposes rotating power outage over high import prices, grid instability

Kosovo rotating power outage high import prices grid instability

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Published

December 23, 2021

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Published:

December 23, 2021

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The Kosovo Electricity Distribution Co. (KEDS) introduced systematic, temporary electricity outages of two hours amid a jump in consumption, low domestic production, high import prices and the imbalances that the issues caused in the European transmission network.

Power consumers in Kosovo* are experiencing emergency power cuts. The two coal-fired power plants there recently suffered several breakdowns and the system is dependent on electricity imports. Distribution system operator KEDS said the rotating power outage would initially be implemented for 24 hours and that different regions would be cut for two hours at a time.

The Transmission, System and Market Operator (KOSTT) cited a significant increase in electricity consumption, the gap between domestic output and consumption and “the enormous growth of the price of electricity” on international markets amid the global energy crisis.

Imbalance at European scale amid lack of power

It acknowledged the situation led to an imbalance in the Continental Europe synchronous area within the European Network of Transmission System Operators – ENTSO-E. Imports from the area are covering 40% of domestic consumption, which grew by a record 10.8% year over year, the statement adds.

Imports from the Continental Europe synchronous area are covering 40% of domestic consumption, which grew by a record 10.8% year over year

The peak load in the transmission system reached an all-time high of almost 1.4 GW on December 21, while the average consumption per hour is just under 1.2 GWh. It is putting a strain on the electric power system and equipment is facing overloads, KOSTT said. The company called on consumers to save electricity, joining the pleas of government officials.

Rolling blackouts returned after more than one decade

It’s been more than a decade since the previous systematic electricity outages. Kosovo* has issues in energy planning, as a coal power plant project has been canceled and a gas pipeline project is currently suspended. The Kosova A and Kosova B thermal power plants are old and in a bad shape.

Kosovo* produces a whopping 94.8% of its electricity from coal, making it the second in the world. Serbia, which also recently suffered a major outage at its biggest coal plants, is ranked seventh in the list.

The deployment of renewables has been slow throughout the Western Balkans. At the same time, old lignite-fired plants are becoming more unreliable. A major fire at a substation in REK Bitola in North Macedonia took one unit offline last month.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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