Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Naser Nuredini said North Macedonia would close its two coal plants by 2030. The government earlier vowed to complete the coal phaseout by 2027.
Dimitar Kovačevski became prime minister of North Macedonia on January 16, after Zoran Zaev resigned, and the government seems to be revising its ambitious coal exit plan amid the ongoing energy crisis.
State-owned power utility Elektrani na Severna Makedonija (ESM) has taken temporary control over district heating in capital Skopje earlier this month as the operators were struggling with the jump in gas costs and couldn’t lift the prices for consumers, since they are regulated by the authorities. The government intervened with EUR 6 million which it expects to be paid back next year.
Power supply still depends on Bitola, Oslomej coal plants
Everyone is aware that REK Bitola and REK Oslomej produce 65% of the country’s electricity, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Naser Nuredini told the press. He promised state support for the construction of solar power plants in the two coal complexes and said both would be closed by 2030.
Nuredini asserted that North Macedonia’s coal phaseout was supposed to be completed in 2028.
Actually, right after former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev floated the date, the government joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) in late June with a pledge to stop using coal by 2027. At the time, Nuredini stressed the challenge of conducting a just transition for workers in the industry and the population in the regions with local economies relying on coal.
Renewables to bring clean air
Investing in renewables and shutting down REK Bitola and REK Oslomej will solve the air pollution isue, the minister stressed.
Earlier, the Balkans United for Clean Air campaign said, citing research data, that exposure to polluted air reduces fertility by 10% and boosts the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths by 13%. It added that 3,400 people die in North Macedonia each year just from exposure to microscopic PM2.5 fine dust particles.
Of note, neighboring Greece has set 2028 as a coal phaseout deadline in its proposed Climate Law even though its officials earlier said the last coal plant would be converted to gas by 2025.