The European Environment Agency has announced that thermal power plant (TPP) Pljevlja, which operates within power utility Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG), consumed its 20,000 operational hours at the end of last year, Montenegrin non-governmental organization Green Home said.
It was just a matter of time when official confirmation would emerge. Pljevlja became the first coal-fired power plant in the region to use its limit, so its status will be important for the rest that are within the scheme, including TPPs Kolubara A and Morava in Serbia and Kakanj and Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Very soon four TPPs in Serbia and BiH will be in the same situation like Pljevlja
The limit is defined under the opt-out mechanism, part of one of two models for implementing the EU’s Large Combustion Plants Directive. The model entails the adoption of a National Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP), which sets limits for overall emissions of SO2, NOx, and particulate matter from all large combustion plants in a country and provides a list of exemptions within the opt-out mechanism. Under the other model, each individual facility must comply with the limit values envisaged by the directive.
The model with an opt-out mechanism is chosen by BiH, Montenegro, and Serbia to fulfill their obligation, as members of the Energy Community, to implement the EU directive. After spending 20,000 operating hours, a power plant should be closed until it is modernized to meet the emission standards from the directive.
At the beginning of October, Green Home asked the Ministry of Economy and EPCG to announce whether TPP Pljevlja used up its 20,000 hours, and if so, what it would do.
The government claimed it was negotiating the extension of the number of operating hours while the Energy Community was announcing it would start an infringement procedure
There was no reaction, and then the new Government of Montenegro was elected. It announced that it was negotiating a new deadline for shutting down TPP Pljevlja.
The answer came very quickly when Janez Kopač, the director of the Secretariat of the Energy Community, said an infringement procedure would be initiated against Montenegro. The European Union would not agree to a new deadline for the shutdown, he added.
Green Home: EPCG must close the power plant or carry out reconstruction
TPP Pljevlja used a little more than 13,800 working hours in 2018 and 2019 so, with 7,194 hours in 2020, it officially violated its international obligation toward the Energy Community to use only 20,000 operating hours from 2018 through the end of 2023, according to Green Home.
The results of the negotiations of the Government of Montenegro regarding the extension of operating hours are not known. However, the position of Energy Community Director Janez Kopač is clear.
EPCG is obliged to close the thermal power plant or carry out its reconstruction after using up its 20,000 operating hours, in order to bring emissions of pollutants within legally binding limits, Green Home added.
TPP Pljevlja produces 40% of EPCG’s electricity
Montenegrin authorities have announced the power plant would not be shut down and that it would be reconstructed. EPCG signed the reconstruction contract in June and the plan was for all works to be completed by 2023.
The importance of TPP Pljevlja for Montenegro is in the fact that, with its 225 MW, it accounts for 25% of the company’s production capacities while its share in the power utility’s overall output is nearly 40%.