Electricity

North Macedonia gets new government – Sanja Božinovska is in charge of energy

North Macedonia government Sanja Bozinovska energy

Photo: Sanja Božinovska

Published

June 24, 2024

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Published:

June 24, 2024

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The new Government of North Macedonia under Prime Minister Hristijan Mickoski includes Minister of Energy, Mining and Mineral Raw Materials Sanja Božinovska. She indicated that the four proposed strategic partnerships in energy would be revised together with the relevant law as well as the operations and contracts of major state-owned companies. Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning is Izet Mexhiti.

The Assembly of North Macedonia – Sobranie elected new Prime Minister Hristijan Mickoski and his cabinet with 77 votes in favor and 22 against. The coalition government, led by his center-right VMRO-DPMNE, has 23 ministries. Minister of Energy, Mining and Mineral Raw Materials Sanja Božinovska has been an energy consultant since 2018, working in the Czech Republic.

Previously she was mostly active in energy trading. Božinovska graduated in business administration and political science from the Anglo-American University in Prague. She holds a masters degree in international business from the University of Groningen.

The new minister also completed a course in women leadership and organizational leadership at Harvard University.

ESM, MEPSO face reviews, shakeup

Božinovska told North Macedonian media it was urgent to tackle unreasonable expenditure, excess employment and corruption in state-owned power company Elektrani na Severna Makedonija (ESM) and transmission system operator MEPSO. She suggested that their tenders, contracts and business operations overall are about to be shaken up.

Asked about the draft laws on four strategic partnerships in energy, Božinovska asserted that, on the path to reaching energy independence, the best that the government can do is build infrastructure in the sector by itself. If the financial situation doesn’t allow it, then it needs to secure a majority stake of at least 51%, in her words.

Most important energy projects are late

The bill on a strategic partnership with Mytilineos from Greece envisages EUR 50 million in state aid plus guaranteed purchases of energy from the proposed cogeneration plant, Božinovska pointed out. Mytilineos Energy and Metals recently changed its name to Metlen Energy and Metals.

The other proposals would facilitate ceding fertile agricultural land for photovoltaic projects, also together with state guarantees for electricity sales, she added. They are for power plant projects developed by Akuo, HEC Solar and AIM Green Tech.

The minister slammed the 2020 law regulating the strategic partnership framework, too, over a lack of transparency boosting risks of corruption.

Other strategic projects are late, Božinovska stressed and highlighted the delays in gasification, the gas interconnection project with Greece and the construction of a high-voltage link with Albania.

Grid requests need second look amid limitations in transmission system

Turning to grid connection requests for renewables that the network couldn’t currently handle, she cited the difficulty of balancing wind and solar power. The quickest solution is installing battery energy storage systems, Božinovska asserted. In the long run, the power distribution network especially needs to be modernized, according to the minister.

“We have to scope all the requests in detail and analyze realistically what our network can receive and if all meet legal requirements,” Božinovska revealed.

MEPSO has received 20 applications for wind power plants of 1.8 GW in total and 56 files for photovoltaic projects with a combined capacity of 6.7 GW, she said. The category encompasses future power plants with connections higher than 10 MW each.

North Macedonia hosts only two wind parks and two more are under construction: Gevgelija (30 MW) and Koprišnica Demir Kapija (40 MW), Božinovska pointed out. As for photovoltaics, three facilities are on the transmission network, with some 100 MW in total (Mey Energy, IGM Trade Kavadarci and Oslomej).

Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Izet Mexhiti is from the ethnic Albanian party Democratic Union for Integration (DUI). Until now he was the head of the Municipality of Čair in the capital Skopje. He has a degree in economics from the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje.

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