Western Balkan countries struggle to keep the lights on
The Kosovo power station in Obilic. Photo: BIRN
As a number of countries in the Western Balkans face severe energy crises, in the dead of winter, consumers are keeping their fingers crossed to keep their lights and heating on.
In Kosovo, public attention has focused on a looming energy crisis, as power plants struggle to cope with the increased demand for energy for heating in winter.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Wednesday the government would allocate funds to cover the import of more energy, with the aim of avoiding blackouts and price hikes.
âKosovo depends on imports to keep the lights onâ¦ We will do our best to maintain the energy supply and avoid any increase in prices,â Kurti said after energy regulator ERO fired. green to a price revision request. A 5% increase in energy prices is probably the consequence.
However, government calls for consumers to save energy were mocked on social media, after Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli called on people to turn off electronic devices, including PlayStation joysticks, when they are not used.
âThe new generation of video games could have a big impact on the energy used in your home. The problem is the hidden cost of energy, when it’s not in use and is on standby, âsaid Rizvanolli.
Kosovo depends primarily on coal for its energy – around 97 percent. The rest comes from wind farms and hydroelectric power stations.
When asked what he uses for heating, Prime Minister Kurti gave an unusual response on Wednesday. âLast night when I got home very late, I used a blanket to warm myself,â Kurti told reporters.
In Serbia, the first snowfall this winter and problems with the supply and quality of coal recently left tens of thousands of homes without electricity and heating.
After 136,000 users lost their electricity supply and 2,000 transformer stations ceased to function on Tuesday, a state of emergency was declared in nine municipalities. The situation has since improved.
Besides the problem of bad winter weather, another reason for the problem was that the Serbian thermal power plants, TENTE A and TENTE B, used poor quality coal, mixed with mud and clay, which damaged the power plant blocks. electric.
Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic said Serbia is still in a severe energy crisis and large and urgent investments in the power system are needed.
“Electricity distribution needs a lot more money to maintain the distribution network, so that we can welcome each winter with peace of mind, and not suddenly have nearly 130,000 people without electricity,” Mihajlovic said Wednesday.
After declaring the energy emergency in November, North Macedonia has since allocated some 65 million euros to energy producers and suppliers. The National Energy Regulatory Commission is due to decide on prices next week.
Large-scale restrictions on the use of electricity are not an option and will only make matters worse, Energy Regulatory Commission chief Marko Bislimoski warned on Tuesday.
âIf we introduce restrictions, energy providers working in the free market, which covers around 50% of electricity demand, will have no way of charging for the electricity they have already purchased and will cancel their offers, so this energy, instead of Macedonia, will end up elsewhere, âhe explained.
The situation was most critical in November, but authorities now say that with an increased supply of coal, mainly from Kosovo, which produces most of its electricity from coal, the country can so far meet. Requirement.
Last week, Economy Minister Kresnik Bekteshi visited neighboring Kosovo where he hoped to get even more coal to get through the winter.
Montenegro’s energy situation is more relaxed. The country’s electricity company said on December 10 that the situation was stable and that there would be no restrictions or sudden increases in electricity bills.
According to company data over the past year, Montenegro produced 97% of its electricity needs, mainly from the coal-fired power plant in Pljevlja and two hydroelectric plants, Piva and Perucica.
In Albania, among the first countries in the region to declare an energy crisis, in early October, winter usually brings some relief, as the country’s energy production depends on the water level of rivers.
According to the Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, electricity production has increased this year in Albania, but grid losses have also increased.
Data released by the Institute of Statistics shows that from January to September of this year, energy production reached 7.4 billion kWh, an 84% increase over the same period in 2020.