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Western Balkans: from coal to clean?

The Western Balkans have huge potential for developing green energy, with its rivers providing hydroelectric power, its mountains and plains enabling wind power, its underdeveloped solar energy and the inhabitants of its many cities keen for sustainable development.

And still fostering the transition towards cleaner and renewable energy sources is crucial for a region highly dependent on coal. Not only are there untapped opportunities in the region, due to windy locations, sunny days and, in some countries, a large hydropower potential, but there is also increasing interest from foreign investors and financiers in renewable energy.

Among investors developing renewable energy projects in the region are WV International NBT, CWP, Masdar, ElicioWind, Akuo Energy, Ivicom Energy, Voltalia, EDF, EVN, Verbund and many others.

The upcoming event, entitled Western Balkans: from coal to clean? and organised by Invest In Network will cover the recent developments in the region.

Norwegian renewable energy company WV International NBT is developing the largest portfolio of projects, with a capacity of 800 megawatts (MW). The target is to have all the wind farms in operation by 2026, with the first 168 MW coming online in 2023. The company is also developing solar power to diversify its green portfolio in Serbia.

Investors led by Masdar own the largest wind farm in Serbia so far, the 158 MW Čibuk 1. They are preparing another project, Čibuk 2, envisaged to have 300 MW. A new wind farm will be built in Serbia’s northeast. The first phase, with a capacity of 150 MW should start in 2023 and the construction of the second phase is to follow.

While Albania currently has no installed wind power plants, at the end of 2020, a 150 MW wind tender was launched, restricted to projects with a minimum capacity of 30 MW and a maximum capacity of 75 MW. Each successful bidder will sign a 15-year PPA for the sale of 100 per cent of electricity generated through the CfD support mechanism. At the same time, two solar projects in Albania were awarded to renewable energy developer Voltalia in 2021. One hundred-forty MW of solar will be built in Karavasta, near the city of Fier, of which 70 MW will be supported through a PPA, while the rest will be sold at market price. Another project is a 100 MW solar PV plant in Durrës.

North Macedonia plans to reach a 50 per cent share of renewables in electricity production by 2024 and to phase out coal. Currently, the government is to determine which firms and consortiums among the ten applicants qualify for the construction and operation of the 333 MW Čebren hydropower plant. The list of world-known firms includes British integrated energy company EDF, PowerChina and Greece’s PPC.

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