Kosovo has been facing a lack of sustainable electricity supply and a high level of pollution from power plants for over twenty years.

One of the reasons is believed to be the age of these coal-fired power plants.

To solve these and other problems in the field of energy sector, the Government of Kosovo has published on June 7 the Draft Energy Strategy for the years 2022-2031.

This document sets out the main directions and actions for the development of the energy sector in the next decade.

In order to improve the electricity supply and reduce the level of pollution from power plants, special importance is given to renewable energy sources.

Currently, about 94 percent of electricity in Kosovo is produced from coal burning, while about 6 percent from renewable sources, such as hydropower plants, wind farms and solar panels.

Kosovo's electricity needs reach up to 1,300 megawatts per day on winter days.

Production capacity from renewable sources is 244 megawatts.

The Draft Energy Strategy envisages that these capacities will reach 490 megawatts in 2024 and up to 1,300 megawatts in 2031.

Kosovo's Minister of Economy, Artane Rizvanolli, said that the goal is that after ten years, 35 percent of electricity consumption will be generated from renewable sources.

Check: Scandinavian strategy

For the former Minister of Energy, Ethem Çeku, also an expert in this field, the Draft Energy Strategy is a necessary document, but "does not correspond to the reality, in which is the energy sector in Kosovo."

"This document would be more for the Scandinavian countries than for Kosovo, because the whole concept of the strategy for sustainable energy supply, for the 10-year period, is based on clean energy.

In Kosovo, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find all those resources ", says Çeku.

He adds that the private development of renewable energy sources has encountered many bureaucracies that have slowed it down.

The climate in Kosovo, he says, is not in favor of these resources either.

"Relying solely on solar, water or wind energy would make Kosovo dependent on the foreign market," says Ceku.

Kosovo's electricity needs exceed production capacity, especially during the winter.

According to the Energy Regulatory Office in Kosovo, in 2021 1,311,461 megawatts of electricity were imported.

Shala: Kosovo needs to alleviate its dependence on coal

Environmentalists say Kosovo does not have enough resources for renewable energy, but needs to develop them.

"Kosovo does not have the potential for hydropower, but it has the potential for solar and wind energy", says Egzona Shala, from the organization "EcoZ".

"About 200 sunny days exist on average [per year] in Kosovo, which can be used for solar energy.

"Wind capacity is also sufficient for energy generation - it just depends on the surface and the place where the springs are located," she added.

Coal - a source of non-renewable energy - produces toxic pollution when burned.

The European Union - the bloc where Kosovo aspires to integrate - has set some deadlines for the gradual closure of coal-fired power plants, as its burning also has a negative impact on global warming.

By signing the Sofia Summit Agreement, Kosovo has pledged to decarbonize or reduce its coal dependence by 2050.

Shala says the only problem with renewable energy is its storage, but, as he adds, there are batteries that serve this purpose.

In May, the Government of Kosovo and the American Millennium Challenge Corporation finalized an agreement worth more than $ 230 million - funds that are expected to be used to secure these batteries.

Energy produced from renewable sources is accumulated in these batteries and used depending on the needs.

What about lignite?

Kosovo has more than 10 billion tons of lignite and, as such, is the fifth country in the world in terms of the amount of this resource.

Coal mining and lignite extraction are used for the "Kosova A" and "Kosova B" power plants, located in Obiliq.

The Draft Energy Strategy does not envisage any new lignite plant, but only the renovation of two units of the Power Plant "Kosova B" and at least one unit of the Power Plant "Kosova A", by 2024.

According to Ceku, this is not enough for a stable electricity supply.

He says that natural resources should have been introduced in order to develop the energy sector.

"If it has been said that Kosovo can become a state and can have sustainable development, such a thing is based on natural resources.

Where are Kosovo's natural resources in this draft strategy?

"If we look at the EU countries, Germany, Poland and others, they have lignite in use as a necessary resource at the moment", says Çeku.

One possibility, even natural gas

The Draft Energy Strategy also mentions natural gas as an energy source.

Last year, Kosovo rejected a project by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which brings gas from Azerbaijan to Greece and then distributes it to other countries.

Kosovo has given up the pipeline known as TAP, arguing that it is economically disadvantaged and expensive.

European institutions support TAP, as they see it as a real opportunity to improve energy security and diversify European markets with gas.

According to the Draft Energy Strategy, the inclusion of Kosovo in this project would be done through the terminal in Vlora, Albania.

The Minister of Economy, Artane Rizvanolli, said that the Government of Kosovo is committed to increasing cooperation with Albania in the energy sector.

The draft Energy Strategy has already been issued for public consultation in some municipalities of Kosovo and will then be presented to the Assembly, where it must be approved.