Electricity

Rizvanolli: Energy crisis in Kosovo* worsens amid coal plant outage

Rizvanolli Energy crisis Kosovo worsens coal plant outage

Photo: Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

Published

December 15, 2021

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Published:

December 15, 2021

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Prishtina is firing up its old heating oil facilities as the entire city was left without heating last night due to a malfunction in the Kosova B coal power plant. Kosovo* is left with only 390 MW from the other thermal power plant, aside from some renewable energy systems, and the peak demand is 1.2 GW.

Kosovo* is importing much more electricity than usual due to outages of both units in lignite-fired Kosova B thermal power plant, Kosovo.Energy reported. Government-controlled Kosovo Energy Corp. (KEK) activated the usually idle third unit in Kosova A and boosted capacity utilization to 390 MW, compared to 800 MW in total in normal circumstances.

The peak demand in Kosovo* is 1.2 GW, the report adds. A small part of the gap is covered by small hydropower plants, solar and wind power. The government is forced to import electricity almost constantly and the recent surge in power prices is hitting the budget hard.

Emergency situation

To make matters worse, Prishtina was completely left without district heating last night as no steam is coming from Kosova B. The city’s utility Termokos said it is firing up boilers for heating oil, which haven’t been used since 2015.

Minister of Economy Artane Rizvanolli said the purchases of power abroad cost EUR 12 million since the beginning of November, calling it an emergency situation. In her words, EUR 12 million was initially earmarked for the whole year. High import bills prompted the Energy Regulatory Office (ERO) to start an unplanned review of electricity tariffs.

There were several outages at the coal plants in Kosovo* in the past weeks. KEK said it expects to repair Kosova B1 by the morning. The three functional units in Kosova A were built between 1970 and 1975, and the ones in Kosova B were completed in 1983 and 1984. Both facilities could be upgraded as plans for another coal plant and a gas pipeline have been scrapped.

Coal plants becoming more unreliable

Lignite capacities in the Western Balkans are generally becoming obsolete and the deployment of renewables has been slow.

Rain and snow soaked the lignite of already bad quality that is delivered to the TENT coal power complex in Serbia, causing malfunctions and blackouts four days ago and turning the country to imports to cover as much as 45% of domestic consumption. A major fire at a substation in REK Bitola in North Macedonia took one coal-fired unit offline a month ago.

Albania and North Macedonia both recently introduced a state of energy emergency due to a jump in prices and their dependence on imports.

* 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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