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Kosovo Sticks by Coal Plant Despite Pollution Fears

Even with some of the worst air in Europe, the lignite-rich Balkan nation says it can’t afford cleaner energy.

7 November 2018

Kosovo is pushing ahead with the planned construction of a coal-fueled power plant, despite the World Bank’s withdrawal of support last month.

 

“The World Bank has recommended to us to have a 400 MW solar park, a 170 MW wind park and a 350 MW battery storage park. We don’t have that luxury to do such experiments in a poor country such as Kosovo. It is a major risk. It is in our national security interest to secure base energy inside our territory,” Valdrin Lluka, Kosovo’s minister for economic development, told Reuters.

 

The World Bank said in October that it didn’t support a 500-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Kosovo, after the government had asked it for partial risk guarantees meant to unlock cheaper loans to finance the project, Reuters wrote.

 

Bank President Jim Yong Kim said its rules required it to support the lowest cost option, which is currently renewable energy.

 

Kosovo’s heavy reliance on lignite, the most polluting form of coal, takes a toll on its air quality. For a few days in late January, Pristina was the most polluted city in the world, surpassing even smog-bound  Chinese cities, according to data provided by the U.S. Embassy. U.S. officials deemed the pollution level in Pristina “hazardous” and advised people to stay inside.

 

During a two-day parliamentary debate that winter, Environment Minister Albena Reshitaj said the government planned to close the oldest coal plant, Kosovo A, modify another, and follow through on 13 years of promises by building a third, modern plant.

 

 

 

  • Most of Lake Gazivode lies within the ethnic Serb-dominated north, a region that Belgrade is likely to reclaim in the event of a land swap taking place. The reservoir not only supplies cooling water for the Kosovo A and Kosovo B plants which produce around 95 percent of Kosovo's electricity, but it also provides drinking water for about a third of Kosovo’s population.

 

  • The EU office in Kosovo has urged lawmakers to vote down a draft law that would raise the maximum age of second-hand cars imported into Kosovo from 10 to 15 years, saying it would worsen air pollution, according to SeeNews.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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