Source: Beta | Friday, 12.08.2022.| 10:19
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International Ecology Organizations Lobbying Against Hydro Power Plants in Western Balkans

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Illustration (Photo: Echunder/shutterstock.com)
Projects of construction of new hydro power plants in the countries of the Western Balkans will be increasingly difficult to realize in the future due to climate change, opposition from the public and legal and financial challenges, whereby those projects would either not contribute to energy security or have sufficient economic potential, says an analysis done by several international organizations.

Traditionally, hydro power plants play a great role in many power systems of southeast Europe, with an especially high share in some countries of the Western Balkans, where, along with coal, they have been the backbone of power generation for decades now.

In the analysis titled “Why Hydropower in Southeast Europe is a Risky Investments”, it is said that many countries of southeast Europe are in the phase where new hydropower capacities will either not contribute to energy security due to being too dependent on them, as is the case in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, or where little economic potential is left, such as Bulgaria and Kosovo.

Albania is almost 100% hydropower-dependent for domestic generation, Montenegro around 50%, and Bosnia and Herzegovina depends on hydropower for around a third of its electricity generation. In North Macedonia, hydropower makes up just under a quarter of domestically generated electricity and in Serbia around 28%.

– It is therefore unsurprising that when the need to develop renewable energy entered the political agenda at the EU level in the late 1990s and early 2000s, southeast European governments, utilities and energy experts mainly understood this as an opportunity to build more hydropower – says the reports published by the organizations CEE Bankwatch, EuroNatur, RiverWatch and WWF Adria.

Although parts of the region are often claimed by governments and hydropower companies to have very high and largely untapped hydropower potential, the authors of the study point out that these are usually based on decades-old estimates from a time “when rainfall was more predictable, people hardly dared to oppose expropriation, and little was known about the region’s astonishing biodiversity”.

The analysis emphasizes the especially high risks of construction of nine hydro power plants in the region: Skavica in Albania, Bistirca, Buk Bijela, Dabar, Ulog and Janjici in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Komarnica in Montenegro.

The authors of the report recommend “lower-risk investments that can help the region move towards a more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable energy system”.

What all the countries of the region have in common, the analysis says, is that their sustainable solar and wind potential has not yet been utilized.

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