Montenegro’s state-owned power utility EPCG says preparatory works are almost complete for the ecological construction of thermal power plant Pljevlja, adding that the project is necessary to prevent massive imports of electricity. The contractors demand EUR 15 million more than what was initially agreed.
If Montenegro’s only coal-fired thermal power plant went offline, the country would have to import 1.5 TWh of electricity on an annual basis, currently worth EUR 200 million, or up to EUR 1 million per day, according to government-controlled utility Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG). The company said the preparations for the so-called ecological reconstruction of the 225 MW TPP Pljevlja are near completion and that it would begin soon.
The country has vowed to abandon coal by 2035 but Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić estimated the Pljevlja facility is likely to be shut down by 2030. Montenegro is already in breach of its obligations within the Energy Community since December, when the thermal power plant spent the 20,000 working hours it was entitled to until it completely overhauls the plant.
Increase in reconstruction price is no problem
Furthermore, the consortium led by China’s Donfang Electric International Corp., which was picked in 2019 for the reconstruction, recently asked for EUR 15 million on top of the agreed price of EUR 54.4 million. EPCG’s Chief Executive Officer Nikola Rovčanin claims “it is not a problem” and that the stability of supply must be maintained.
The company would suffer an annual loss if TPP Pljevlja’s pauses its operations for 15 days, he said and cited an unexpectedly low level of water in the reservoirs of its hydropower plants. Rovčanin pointed out that the reconstruction would last three and a half years and that the facility would be switched off for several months. All the currently planned energy capacities would have total output of 1.5 TWh, he said.
TPP Pljevlja to be brought in line with EU rules, CEO claims
The project will boost efficiency to 31% and cut emissions to the required levels, according to the CEO. The thermal power plant needs to operate at least until 2035 “or maybe longer,” Rovčanin stressed. The ecological reconstruction will also benefit the employees in the coal complex, “who cannot in any way feel the negative consequences of the energy transition,” he asserted.
Rovčanin said EPCG already paid EUR 17 million in total to the consortium.