Electricity production at North Macedonia’s renewable energy power plants increased 14.7% last year against 2020, while output at coal-fired power plants fell 17.1%. The share of renewable energy in total electricity production also increased, from 29.2% to 31.4%.
Large and small hydropower plants, solar power plants, and those fueled by biogas and biomass, with a combined capacity of 795 MW, together produced 1,662 GWh in 2021, or 31.4% of the country’s total electricity output, according to the annual report by North Macedonia’s energy regulator ERC.
Large hydropower plants accounted for most of the output, or 68%, followed by small hydropower plants, 19%, and wind farms, 6%. The biggest drivers of the green energy growth in 2021 were large hydropower plants, with an increase in production of over 10%, and photovoltaic power plants, whose output rose 38%, from 37 GWh in 2020 to 51 GWh last year.
Output at photovoltaic power plants rose from 37 GWh to 51 GWh
The green energy growth is reflected in the fact that 2021 saw 49 new renewable facilities connected to the grid, 48 of which were solar and only one small hydropower plant. The new solar power plants have a combined capacity of 14 MW, while the small hydropower plant’s capacity is 0.2 MW.
The report also noted a significant growth in the number of consumers installing photovoltaic panels to produce electricity for self-consumption (prosumers), as well as an increase in the overall output of such facilities.
Thermal power plants fired by coal, fuel oil, or natural gas accounted for 68.5% of North Macedonia’s electricity production in 2021, or 3,622 GWh. Even though they remain the biggest producers, last year’s 17.1% drop against 2020 demonstrates a declining trend.
The decline would have been even sharper had it not been for an increase in output at cogeneration power plant TE-TO Skoplje, fueled by natural gas, and at thermal power plant Negotino, which uses fuel oil. They both produced more than they should have due to the energy crisis. TE-TO Skoplje increased production last year by 453 GWh, to 1,503 GWh, while Negotino was restarted from cold reserve, generating 27 GWh of electricity.
Domestic production declined sharply against 2010
Electricity generation in North Macedonia declined from 6,744 GWh in 2010 to 5,284 GWh in 2021, mainly due to a drop at power utility Elektrani na Severna Makedonija (ESM), from 6,476 GWh to 3,274 GWh.
This was due to disruptions or reduced output at thermal power plants REK Bitola and REK Oslomej, caused by poor quality coal, insufficient quantities of domestic coal, the approaching end of the two power plants’ operating life, and insufficient investment, according to the ERC’s report.
On the other hand, output at hydropower plants varied depending on hydrological conditions, ranging between 2,185 GWh in 2021 and a mere 816 GWh in 2017.