On 20 December 2017, then Minister of Economic Development Valdrin Lluka signed an agreement with ContourGlobal, an American company, to build “Kosova e Re”, a 500 MW coal-fired power plant. Construction on the €1.3 billion project was intended to start late 2018 or early 2019 and be completed by 2023. As of August 2019, the parliament has not approved the project and construction has not begun.
It promises to employ or stimulate employment of 10,000 people during the construction phase and 500 permanently when operating. This construction would be part of a modernization of Kosovo’s energy sector which will also include renovation of Kosovo B and permanently closing Kosovo A power plant.
In an earlier plan, “Kosova e Re” would provide no energy to the Kosovo market and only sell electricity for export. The current agreement would require that the Kosovo government buys all “Kosova e Re” power before Kosovo B or any other power, guaranteeing that all of ContourGlobal’s production is paid for.
While this whole article is intended to make an overwhelming case that Kosova e Re should be stopped immediately – and please keep reading – perhaps this one paragraph is all that is necessary!
The World Bank announced on October 10, 2018 that it would not proceed with support for the power plant in Kosovo because we are required to support the least cost option and energy from renewable sources has now come below the cost of energy from coal.
The following are 38 reasons why the Kosova e Re plan should be cancelled: why a costly and even tragic mistake should be stopped. If it is not stopped, Kosovo will pay for the error in higher energy costs, environmental destruction, displacement of citizens, harm to public health, and diminished sovereignty and respect in the world for decades to come. Moreover, opportunities to invest instead in energy conservation and renewables will be lost.
Economic Reasons – the Government
Proponents of Kosova e Re say that the budget is reasonable, costs will be contained, and that it will fuel a spurt of economic growth, increasing Kosovo’s annual growth rate by 1-2% per year. Blerand Stavileci, then Minister of Economic Development, in 2016 argued that business losses due to irregular power supply totals €300 million per year. It is clear that Kosovo needs a reliable energy supply; nevertheless, there are multiple economic reasons why Kosova e Re is the wrong solution. Reasons 1-8 look at what the government of Kosovo will pay for Kosova e Re. These include the conditions to enable construction such as resettlement of local communities; guarantees for purchasing the output of the power plant; guarantees for providing certain quantities and qualities of coal and water for the power plant; regulatory uncertainty; and increased liabilities for the poor. The government’s money can come from: taxes on people and business; tariffs, fees and duties; sale of national resources; donors. What the government spends on one thing (in this case the power plant and all its obligations) it cannot spend on other needs, now or in the future. These first eight reasons say “government”, but if you earn an income or run a business in Kosovo, for the most part, this means your money.
Reason 1. The government must buy Kosova e Re’s power output at €80/MWh. The Kosovo government created a company, NKEC (New Kosovo Electricity Company), which buys all the energy produced by Kosova e Re. That is the government’s contract with ContourGlobal. Then further costs are added: KOSTT, which manages the transmission system and connection to the electrical systems of other countries transmitting at €3/MWh and KEDS, a Turkish-owned company which provides energy to and bills the end users within the borders of Kosovo, at €32/MWh. The cost to the consumer of Kosova e Re electricity, adding in KOSTT and KEDS, will be as high as €115/MWh. The current average local and regional cost is €50-60/MWh. This is an increase of 92%! This increased cost will be borne by Kosovo electricity users: people, business, and the government too will pay a lot more for electricity. With Kosova e Re producing electricity, costs will not always be €115/MWh. When Kosovo B is also operating, the market will reflect their combined costs. However, as Kosova e Re power must be bought at €80/MWH before any other source, average costs will always be higher. When demand is low, costs will be closer to the highest costs. This €115 electricity must be used before Kosovo B electricity, which costs much less. Large companies such as Trepca and Ferronikeli can buy cheaper energy from other countries in the region so they do not help fulfil Kosovo’s purchase obligations. In reality, rather than benefiting from Kosovo resources, the government will take on new massive costs, Balkan Green Foundation projects Kosovo government subsidies of €185 million/year – €3.7 billion over the 20-year contract. Indeed, projections of the real costs of Kosova e Re power with all of the costs taken on by the government, financing costs, ContourGlobal profit could mean price increases of 176.5%, or with 20% bonus, 231.8%, according to anINDEP-Balkan Green Foundation study!
Reason 2. The power plant will harm economic growth. Whereas now Kosovo energy prices are the lowest in the region, Kosova e Re will make Kosovo energy prices the highest in the western Balkans; therefore, business will suffer. Rather than increased employment, increased unemployment is more likely. The costs for any business with significant energy input, whether a small business such as a baker, or medium-sized business such as a brick or roof tile producer, will be higher. Sales will go down. Businesses will increase prices, reduce employment, or they may go out of business.
Reason 3. Tax collections will be reduced. If economic growth is slowed or reversed, if employment stagnates or is reduced, government tax revenues suffer.
Reason 4. The power plant cannot ensure government profit 20 years in the future. ContourGlobal will give the government the keys to Kosova e Re after 20 years operation, if current plans hold, in 2043. The government may realize income when it takes control of a 20-year old plant in 2043 or later, but it will be older with increasing maintenance costs. Meanwhile, EU regulations will only get more restrictive and costly. Simply put, it is a gamble.
Reason 5. The government will pay for resettlement. High electricity costs are just the start. Kosovo will pay much more to resettle people living in areas affected by the new plant and expansion of mines – even, as is likely, if resettlement is not well managed. The Downing Report on involuntary resettlement details 13 points on the failure to use appropriate practices. It finds the government consultant’s figure to be quite inadequate. That estimated cost of resettlement is €180-200 million. This number is for 1500 households. Presumably, this is only the initial resettlement and does not include up to twice as many additional people over time, as the mining area spreads. If the costs of resettlement, health, and environmental destruction are included, the costs of coal power can be as much as three times more expensive than alternative forms of power.
Reason 6. The government will pay for water and coal “quality”. The contract stipulates that Kosovo will provide water to Kosova e Re, guarantee the quality of the lignite provided, and deal with by-products. The quantities specified are significantly higher than currently. There will even be a new company to improve the coal quality. Who will pay for this? Paying these costs out of the Kosovo budget is against regulations of the European Energy Community, of which Kosovo is a member. Will this be a further addition to the bill of every power consumer in Kosovo? This is not part of the payment guaranteed to ContourGlobal of €80/MWh of power.
Reason 7. People living with “energy poverty” will require more government support. Energy poverty does not have a universal definition. In the UK, “energy poverty” is spending more than 10% of household income on energy. For Kosovo our sources used 20%, though we have not found official confirmation. The government provides social assistance to poor people and war veterans. (Whether there are 13,000 or more than 60,000 war veterans is a question that will affect how much the government will provide in support). Soaring electric costs as well as health costs related to increased energy poverty may force increased government social assistance payments.
Reason 8. Debt will limit Kosovo’s growth. Some part of Kosova e Re’s costs to the government, as above – decommissioning Kosovo A, resettlement, providing quality water and coal, buying all the power plant’s output, increased social assistance costs – will be borrowed money. That growing debt burden will prevent other needed investments by Kosovo’s government.
Reason 9. Home owners, renters, businesses, NGOs, the government will pay for more expensive electricity. Looking at higher energy costs (see Reason 1) from the consumer side, everyone will be paying up to 92% more for electricity.
Reason 10. Electric rate costs may be even higher than reason 9. Igor Kalaba, in Balkan Insight, reports, for example, that Bosnian electricity costs from its new coal-fired power plant are much higher than promised. Future EU regulations and increased greenhouse gas emission surcharges could further raise prices. EU Member States and Contracting Parties of the Energy Community Treaty, which includes Kosovo, are not allowed to subsidize coal fired power in any way except for closing plants down. Financial Analyst Hekuran Murati´s analysis of the contract finds: government penalties for contract breaches are higher than ContourGlobal penalties; that ContourGlobal can charge 20% more than €80/MWh if it produces more than 75% of capacity; and that the €80/MWh can be increased if ContourGlobal´s loan costs increase. And closing down – decommissioning – Kosovo A, which must happen, will be another cost to the Kosovo budget, of at least $65 million. This means that costs of meeting new environmental regulations, increased costs of construction and so on will be paid by Kosovo consumers.
Reason 11. Lack of Competition. Everyone will pay more because the government’s commitment to buy all the produced electricity will prevent competition, load sharing, and energy alternatives from moderating prices. Rather than benefiting from Kosovo resources, Kosovo’s citizens will pay much more for electricity than they may be able to pay neighboring countries for it, or produce it from environmentally friendly sources.
Reason 12. Debt to your children. Debt, as in Reason 8, will be government debt. But much of that will affect you and your children for decades as potentially higher taxes, and reduced money spent on services such as education, health, and public works.
Reason 13. Employment claims are wild. Power plant proponents have said the 500 MW Kosova e Re project will need 10,000 workers for construction and 500 to operate. The 300 MW Stanari plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 60% of the size of Kosova e Re, promised only 1200 construction workers, and in reality employed only 400-450 workers from BiH, and 350-400 Chinese workers, as reported in (and note the title) The Great Coal Jobs Fraud. Å oÅ¡tanj 6 in Slovenia, similar in size to Kosova e Re, needs only 200 workers to operate. Based on these other power plants, it is more reasonable to assume Kosova e Re could employ 1600 temporary construction workers, and 200 operating staff. A Ministry of Economic Development document restates the 10,000 as 10,000 man-year jobs, meaning closer to 2500 direct, indirect and induced jobs over 4+ construction years. That is more realistic. Article 13 of the Implementation Agreement states the Kosovo citizens and companies are always to be favoured’ except for enough exceptions to render this part of the agreement meaningless.
Reason 14. “Energy poverty” will increase. The cost to government of energy poverty, Reason 7, is one part of the story. The bigger part is that thirty percent of Kosovo’s population suffers energy poverty now: spending 20% or more of their income on heat and electricity. As the cost of electricity increases by 50-90%, the number of people impoverished by energy costs will increase. Another face of energy poverty is the day-to-day impact on life, such as cold living space, reducing heated areas in the home, and choosing between bread and warmth.
Resettlement away from the new power plant and mines will affect and harm thousands of Kosovars.
Reason 15. 6320 Kosovars will lose their homes. The project calls for the displacement and relocation of 6320 Kosovars from their land in Obiliq, Fushe Kosova, Vushtrri, and Gllogovc. This is destruction of communities.
Reason 16. 13,360 Kosovars may lose their homes. An additional 13,360 Kosovars may be resettled in the following years, gradually, as the mine expands, and noise and pollution get closer. People may not be offered resettlement until the local conditions become unbearable, as mining, and its results, get closer to them. See Figure 1. Such incremental resettlement will add to the fracturing of communities, income, and living conditions.
Reason 17. Temporary housing. People who lose their homes may be forced to accept temporary housing for long periods, as has happened in previous property seizures, in clear violation of international resettlement standards. Resettlement plans include providing new housing on reclaimed land after mining with long and indeterminate waiting periods for such reclaimed land. They do not guarantee land for land replacement or include land that cannot be reasonably restored to use. As for the cost of this not-promised land restoration’. A 2005 EuropeAid estimate was €100 million for 212 hectares!
Reason 18. Kosovo has not met international resettlement standards. Kosovo has failed to meet or plan for international standards for forced resettlement. As a standard, for example, World Bank support requires that people displaced in development projects be fairly compensated, moved to a good situation, and share in the benefits of the project. “Share in the benefits” means that those directly affected – forced to give up their property – receive some income from what is being produced from their former land. This is not the same as a trust fund for the municipality that all municipal residents may benefit from. There is no indication that the government is prepared to meet this requirement. The government has not budgeted for the real costs and obligations. This will lead to hardship for people displaced, potential social unrest, and significant additional costs that will be passed on to electricity users – the Kosovo public.
Reason 19. The Government of Kosovo cannot handle this large displacement. The Kosova e Re plant will displace up to 35 times as many people as were displaced from Hade in 2004-2005. That resettlement was unsatisfactory, and indeed years afterward people lived in temporary housing. There are grave doubts that the government will succeed with a vastly larger resettlement project and ample indications that it will not. Therefore, these citizens of Kosovo will certainly experience significant harm.
Reason 20. Subsistence farmers are out of luck. Obiliq has one of the highest population densities and lowest employment rates in Kosovo. For many families, their plot of land is all that stands between them and hunger. “With such limited employment and irregular income, ‘ land provides the people with a significant source of livelihood and food security. ‘ Most households produce food (97.8%), raise animals (87.0%), ‘. Grain and livestock production is common. ‘ Households used 62.5% percent of pastures and 64.8% of the arable land for subsistence agriculture ‘ Twenty-three percent reported that they did not have enough money to buy food, and 16% considered themselves as living ‘hand to mouth,’ meaning they are below the poverty line.”
Reason 21. Obiliq businesses harmed. Obiliq small businesses will lose income when people are resettled to other areas, and increased poverty of relocated people means they may not contribute as much to local economies as before they were forced to move.
Ted Downing’s Report, Does the Kosovo Power Project’s Proposed Forced Displacement of Kosovars Comply with International Involuntary Resettlement Standards? is the primary source for Reasons 15-21. The Report’s 157 numbered paragraphs are, essentially, an itemized list of 157 questions, background documents, governing regulations and standards, and things just wrong with the plans and intentions for appropriating homes, structures and land from Kosovo citizens for the power plant and new mines. For the record, when that report was written, a 600 MW plant was considered, so 20% larger than the current 500 MW plan.
Bad health outcomes for Kosovars is well-documented. Kosovars living in Obiliq, near Kosovo A and Kosovo B, suffer the highest incidence in Kosovo of cancers and respiratory disease. In January 2018, the US Embassy reported, Prishtina had the highest air pollution levels in the world! An air quality index (AQI) of 0-50 is considered safe. The highest of 6 levels, 300+, is hazardous. Prishtina reached 400 in January 2018. Several factors contribute including too many cars in too small a space, and home wood and coal burning. A main contributor is electric generation through coal. Pollution, according to a 2013 World Bank report, is responsible for 852 premature deaths and 318 new cases of bronchitis every year in Kosovo. Coal burning is highly toxic to human health. Consider this, from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
When coal is burned it releases a number of airborne toxins and pollutants. They include mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and various other heavy metals. Health impacts can range from asthma and breathing difficulties, to brain damage, heart problems, cancer, neurological disorders, and premature death.
Reason 22. Premature deaths. The European Environment Agency (EEA), an EU agency, uses a much higher figure than the World Bank: nearly 4,000 premature deaths annually: 3700 due to particulate matter (PM2.5), 70 to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and 120 to ozone (O3).
Reason 23. Life years lost. The EEA calculates that Kosovars lose 36,300 years of life (YLL) from these three coal burning pollutants in Kosovo due to “exposure to harmful emissions from the country’s thermal power plants, coal-based heating and traffic.”
Reason 24. A large affected area. As the map below demonstrates Fushe Kosova, Obiliq, Gllogovc are all in the impact area of mining and coal burning. Of course, Prishtina residents know they are affected as well. The city is only a mild wind away. Kosovo A and Kosovo B are ranked #1 & #3 of the ten most polluting power plants in Europe. If one imagines Prishtina is far enough away from the plants, the reality is that the pollutants travel far indeed. “Existing coal plants in Kosovo create a total of between €70 and €169 million per year in health costs to people and governments in the region. Due to long-distance travel of pollutants in the air, plants in Kosovo are creating a total of between €144 and €352 million health costs per year to Europe.”
Reason 25. Bartering sovereignty? Did Kosovo sign this agreement with an American company to satisfy American interests? Kosovo is grateful to the US for its support, needs that support in the future, and regards the United States as its number one ally. But, if that is the reason for undertaking harmful commitments, then the government surrenders its responsibility to have a modern sovereign state responsible for its own citizens. Could this even hurt Kosovo-US relations as Kosova e Re makes an American company directly and indirectly responsible for displacing thousands of people, harm to health, environmental destruction, and sky-high electric costs?
Reason 26. Unprotected land becomes a dead zone. Vetendosje was willing to tear-gas the Assembly to prevent a border agreement that might cede up to 8200 hectares in the Ã‡akor and Kulla area to Montenegro. (Tear-gassing an elected Assembly, however dissatisfied with it, is not cited as a good practice.) Should the government or parties in the Assembly agree to allow 14,986 hectares of land, more than half of which is agricultural, in the most populated area of Kosovo to become dirtier and more polluted, forcing thousands of residents from their homes and land? Should a government agree to allow its farmland to be contaminated? Should a government allow its capital city, Prishtina, and its fastest growing city, Fushe Kosova, to continue to have health damaging pollution for decades to come?
Reason 27. Respect in the world is choosing a green future. Kosovo seeks to be a respected nation in the center of Europe and a member of the European Union. Though the major EU economies were built on coal, that time has passed. Now they tolerate that the “less developed” regions have dirty industry, and polluted lands and waters. But what will be tolerated is shrinking. Every EU country except Greece and Poland has pledged that no new coal plants will come online after 2020. Europe-wide coal pollution causes more than 22,000 deaths per year. Nine EU states have no coal-powered electricity, and 11 have plans to phase coal out of use entirely by 2030 or earlier. If Kosovo insists on building Kosova e Re, beginning operation in 2023, to fulfill its useful life and pay its debt, it would be polluting and pouring CO2 into the atmosphere until 2063 or beyond. When Kosovo insists on being clean, modern, and green, Kosovo and the world will be better. Montenegro was working toward a new coal fired power plant but decided to look instead to a better energy future.
Reason 28. Kosova e Re will need water. HE “IbÃ«r-Lepenc” J.S.C., a company wholly owned by the Kosovo government, contractually agrees to supply Kosova e Re water at .45 m3/second, which works out to about 14 million cubic meters of water per year. In recent years, Battlava and Badoc water shortages have come close to moving from rationing to emergency. The Kosova e Re plans call for using water from Gazivoda, which also supplies water to Kosovo A and Kosovo B. This raises two concerns. First, generally growing water needs and potential water shortages should lead to conserving water wherever possible. Second, Gazivoda is in the north and so perhaps vulnerable to political problems. If future droughts or political confrontation with Serbia lead to water supply reductions which water will be cut – to Kosova e Re, to farmers, to Kosovo cities?
Reason 29. The Agreement sacrifices sovereignty to a company. The agreements totally protect and enrich ContourGlobal and totally obligate the government on every aspect – guaranteeing loan, water, coal, purchase of excess production, sacrifice of Kosovo B production is no more need – the mammoth cost of building “Kosova e Re” is less Kosovo owning a power plant than the investors owning Kosovo. They will be first in line for payment from the plant – and from the national treasury when the plant does not meet its contract.
Reason 30. Target corruption. There is no evidence of corruption in the contract and plan for Kosova e Re. However, there is a lack of transparency. The bid processes ended up with only one bidder. Most but not the entire contract has been made available to the public. What is agreed that the public has not seen? Even if the power plant proceeds, the public and the government should force transparency so there is no hint of corruption. The proposed €1.3 billion construction cost is only the beginning. The doubled cost of the Kosovo-Albania highway should be a cautionary lesson. What is the future for this contract? Kosovo citizens should be able to have confidence they know what other costs they may have to pay. Although Kosovo NGOs – Balkan Green Foundation (BGF), the GAP Institute, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) and the Institute for Development Policy (INDEP) – in July won a lawsuit forcing the government to provide public access to project documents, these NGOs indicate that much remains unknown, conditions for corruption are present, and no one has been held responsible for violating Kosovo law.
Reason 31. Kosovo laws and binding international agreements are being violated, in at least 4 ways. We’ve already noted that (1) Resettlement Standards are not met. (2) Kosovo Law on Public Procurement Art. 32.4 requires there be at least two bidders on a tender. Here we have one of the largest contracts the government may ever give with only one bid. That screams bad practice. (3) It is also against European Energy Community regulations, of which Kosovo is a member, for a government to pay for any expenses for coal power generation – except for closing down plants. But Kosovo is guaranteeing to buy all the energy the plant produces, to pay for resettlement, etc. (4) An Environmental Impact Statement must be public before any public debates. There were debates with no public statement issued.
Potential investors violate Kosovo laws and the laws of their own country. Kosovo civil society organizations have warned potential investors, notably now the US government´s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) that supporting Kosova e Re would violate prohibitions against investments harmful to health and environment, like coal burning, commitments without satisfactory Environmental Impact Assessments, evaluation of economic soundness of the project,
Kosovo Green Power and Environmental Security Reasons
Nations including Kosovo never analyze the real cost of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). The International Monetary Fund calculates that world-wide fossil fuels are subsidized at an annual level of $5.2 trillion dollars based on 2017 calculations. There is the cost of environment and health damage that is not factored into the cost of these fuels that people and their governments pay for. Kosovo has these costs as well. Added to the government commitment to paying other subsidies such as the cost of resettlement, and a high price for fuel, energy conservation, wind and solar start to look really attractive. When you consider the real cost of coal – investing in energy conservation and green energy is a much better investment.
Reason 32. Five strategies for Green Energy are better than coal. The five are: 1) energy conservation; 2) cutting transmission loss; 3) wind power; 4) solar power; 5) a concession agreement with Albania, their winter hydropower for Kosovo’s summer excess capacity. Wind and hydro are better winter sources and solar of course is the best in summer. This calls for an “all-of-the-above” option. This approach would be healthier, reduce energy poverty, cut energy costs rather than raise them, reduce pollution, and contribute to reducing global warming. It would be very difficult in that it would need government and civil society to be heavily committed to making many, many small things happen, instead of one big thing.
Reason 33. Wind and solar can deliver power sooner. Wind and solar farms could be erected and on-line faster than a coal plant. Kosova e Re supplies no new energy until the whole project is completed, certainly no earlier than early 2024. Energy conservation, and new solar and wind generation, don’t have to wait for a major project to be completed. Solar and wind can be implemented in smaller units and begin generating electricity and meeting Kosovo’s energy needs earlier than Kosova e Re can come on line. The process of identifying locations, bidding, licensing, design, land preparation, connection to transmission lines, and so on could take longer than the ContourGlobal’s 52 months timeline from an implementation agreement before Kosova e Re would be online – but it could be faster.
Reason 34. Energy conservation is more cost effective. Energy use can be substantially reduced for households, businesses, and government. Installation of wall and roof insulation, improved window systems, sealing of household air leaks, better control and conservation of energy for heating water, electronic thermostats, low energy use lighting are ALL more efficient economic investments, better for the environment and can potentially create more jobs dispersed around Kosovo than a new lignite fired power plant. Private companies that audit energy use can be licensed to recommend and install improvements that can be financed through financial instruments and perhaps administered by KEDS, with repayment built into the monthly payment to the utility. They could offer total bills (energy purchase plus energy saving measures) that will reduce “energy poverty” whereas Kosova e Re will increase energy poverty. Kosovo has laws for energy conservation, but there are many further steps that can make these laws and use of resources much more effective.
Reason 35. More wood will be burned because of Kosova e Re. The RIT Center for Energy and Natural Resources (Rochester Institute of Technology Kosovo) has looked at the energy use practices of energy poor populations (and more widely) they found that people chose wood and household coal burning over electricity for heating because of the high cost of electricity. Household coal and wood burning lead to high indoor and outdoor pollution. Household wood burning consumes more than 2.1 million cubic meters of wood annually. Sustainable wood harvesting is estimated at 1.2 to 1.3 million cubic meters. This means, “this dependence will lead to the rapid disappearance of Kosovo’s forests. Unofficial estimates have this occurring at some point in the next 15 to 20 years.” As a result of wood-burning, Kosovo forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. They forecast that cheaper electricity would be provided, reducing the strain on the wood supply. This is an important consideration. It’s relevance hinges, however, on what impact the new power plant will have on energy prices. The current plan means not that electricity costs will decrease, but they will increase by as much as 92% in some periods of the year. It is likely, therefore, that Kosova e Re will lead to increased illegal logging for heat as more people attempt to survive higher electricity costs. A GAP study found that cogeneration – indeed a lower cost source of heating – did in fact reduce coal and wood use of household heating. The ContourGlobal contract stipulates that the site and plant must be ready for installation of cogeneration, but it is not part of the current and contracted plan. That leads to an alternative argument: If power costs were lower it would help save Kosovo’s priceless forests, but Kosova e Re without cogeneration will do the opposite.
Reason 36. Kosova e Re does not solve pollution. Building a new coal power plant extends dangerous and destructive pollution for another forty years. Even though the particulate pollution that damages human health is significantly less than produced by Kosovo A, it is still a problem. Further, Kosova e Re does not reduce the CO2 that is causing global warming. Closing Kosovo A and repairing Kosovo B will reduce pollution. The new plant will improve pollution compared to operating Kosovo A – but be far worse than getting energy from conservation, wind, solar, and hydro-thermal. Energypost.eu, an industry newsletter, reports that the ContourGlobal plant design is state of the art for 2005, but does not meet current EU best available design, 2017 LCP BREF. On top of all that, of course, the ash of the burned coal will continue to blow wherever the wind takes it: Prishtina, Fushe Kosovo, Obiliq, Vushtrii, Lipjan, Gllogovc, and beyond.
Reason 37. Cutting energy loss and waste is more efficient. Currently approximately 30% of the electricity generated in Kosovo is lost, wasted or stolen. Almost fifteen percent is transmission line and distribution losses. Another 14.75% is Ìˆcommercial Ìˆ loss: energy that is not paid for. A 2012 Sierra Club / Kosovar Institute for Development Policy report argued that such losses could be cut to 5% in five years – with adequate commitment. Part of the contract with KOSTT, the distribution company, is that distribution is gradually improved. Kosovo’s transmission losses are at least 7 times greater than the most efficient countries. A new power plant locks in for decades high cost electricity for families, businesses and institutions. Investment in cutting waste locks in for decades reduced energy use and lower costs for families, businesses and institutions.
Reason 38. Coal must stay in the ground. This reason above all should be the “deal breaker!” The climate impact of increasing global temperature linked particularly to carbon pollution (vehicle emissions and burning of coal, oil and gas) will make our world far more difficult to live in than it has been for hundreds of thousands of years. Coal is mostly carbon. When burnt, carbon reacts with oxygen in the air to form CO2, which acts like a blanket holding warm air in the earth’s atmosphere leading to global warming. Our children and grandchildren will live in a hotter world with more climate crises, droughts, floods, food production failures, agricultural devastation from pests, mass migrations, and wars caused by these conditions. There is NO scientific doubt that things will get worse, only doubt about how quickly. Today, the most important choice for every country is to leave carbon products – coal, oil, and gas – in the ground, and most importantly coal. To choose to build a new coal power plant, is – in reality – hateful. Decisions made in Kosovo will not have the impact of decisions made in the US, Germany, Russia, etc. But they either contribute to the problem, or help reduce the worst impacts.
Multiple Kosovo governments have invested years of effort and lots of money into solving Kosovo’s energy needs. The Ministers who cite energy shortages and unreliable supply as major obstacles to growth, and want to close the very dirty Kosovo A, are right. They are wrong in choosing lignite coal as the answer. They are wrong to say that Kosova e Re is good for Kosovo. They are wrong if they see the problem, but cannot imagine cancelling it after so much investment in planning, promoting and tendering a new power plant.
Cancellation of the agreement for Kosova e Re could incur a €19.7 million financial penalty. That is a high cost, and an embarrassment the government might fear; the costs of continuing this project are vastly higher. If CountourGlobal has made any significant promises concerning the new power plant that are shown to be misleading, perhaps, at least, the penalty costs could be challenged in court.
For any reader seeking an overview of the Ministry of Economic Development’s argument for Kosova e Re, see the 48 Frequently Asked Questions in Energy Independence for Kosovo.
One reason or another may not be enough to stop this project. I argue that Reason 38: Coal Must Stay in the Ground is reason enough. Climate change is an existential peril to human civilization and life on earth. In any case, the 38 reasons taken together should be enough to convince us. Stop Kosova e Re. Tell the government to aggressively embark on a green path to Kosovo’s energy future.
Rand Engel was Coordinator of Balkan Sunflowers from 1999-2015. Much earlier, in 1977, he founded Home Energy Centers, one of the first US companies to offer energy audits and multiple energy saving products and services. With 16 years living in Prishtina, and half a year in Plemetina village just a few hundred meters from Kosovo B, and with many Kosovo friends, he takes Kosova e Re seriously.
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This post was written by Rand Engel