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Romanian CE Oltenia to shift to cleaner energy and to reduce coal power production

Romania’s state-owned power company and second-biggest electricity producer Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CE Oltenia) outlined its restructuring and decarbonisation plan that entails gradually scaling down its coal power production and developing renewable energy sources, with a target to slash carbon emissions by 38 per cent. The plan includes investments of 7 billion lei (1.5 billion euros) by 2026.

Once the restructuring is completed, CE Oltenia will have an energy mix combining coal, natural gas and renewable energy. The restructuring plan involves building eight solar power plants, with a total installed capacity of 700 megawatts (MW) in Turceni, Rovinari, and Işalniţa, and modernising a small hydropower plant in Turceni with an installed capacity of 10 MW.

The company also plans the development of new natural gas capacities with a total installed capacity of about 1,300 MW in Turceni and Isalnita. The new projects that will have a total installed capacity of about 2,000 MW will be put into operation by 2026.

However, CE Oltenia emphasised that the diversification of energy resources does not mean the immediate closure of lignite mining, but the gradual reduction of these activities, which will continue after 2030.

“Investments in mining and coal-fired power plants will amount to about 2 billion lei (413 million euros),” reads the company’s press statement.

The Romanian Government considers the Restructuring Plan of CE Oltenia the only viable long-term option for saving the company whose activity is crucial for the national energy system. The document has already been presented to Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and it will be sent for analysis and approval to the European Commission by the end of August.

Phasing-out coal and lignite power generation is a critical question for many countries in Central and Eastern Europe. However, progress is uneven between countries, which show a different level of ambition in denouncing coal production.

In Romania, coal and lignite account for around 16 per cent of energy supply, which is below the level of coal-based power generation in neighbouring Bulgaria, but capacity-wise coal-fired power plants are still there in the system as a backup, although they are rarely utilised.

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