Power generation company ContourGlobal has announced it has abandoned its plans to construct a 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Kosovo, enabling an opportunity to transition to renewables.
The planned coal plant is the third such project in the region to be cancelled in the last six months, following a recent report by Carbon Tracker finding that building new solar and wind farms in Europe is cheaper than building new coal plants or operating existing ones. The announcement also reaffirms the decision of the World Bank to pull out of the ‘Kosova e Re’ project in October 2018. ContourGlobal accompanied the announcement with a statement saying it will not develop or acquire any coal power plants in the future.
Despite its renewable energy potential, Kosovo is almost entirely dependent on coal for electricity, and like other coal-dependent countries in the region, it relies upon direct and indirect subsidies to keep its coal sector afloat.
“This is great news for clean air and a sustainable future for Kosovo” said Viktor Berishaj, Energy Policy Coordinator for Southeast Europe at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. “We know that wind and solar are edging out coal across Europe, and much of the world. Planned coal plants either get cancelled or they get stranded. Where previous governments wasted time and effort in futile attempts to keep coal alive at the expense of the taxpayers, their health and the climate, there now can and must emerge an inclusive and strategic process of building a Paris Agreement-compatible, climate-neutral, economically viable and renewable future beyond coal. This is great news for Western Balkans too, because it helps all countries in the region to abandon coal, free up resources and focus on accelerated deployment of the region’s enormous renewable energy potential in place of what is now Europe’s most polluting coal fleet.”
Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director at Europe Beyond Coal, added that Montenegro and North Macedonia have both recently abandoned similar coal projects and that it is now Kosovo’s turn.
“This news should come as a stark warning to investors, and other countries in the Western Balkan region that have yet to abandon building new coal power plants, such as Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina. Investing in coal is a gamble that simply won’t pay” Ms Gutmann said. “The future lies in renewables and energy efficiency.”
“Given the ongoing climate emergency, the race is now on for Kosovo and the entire Western Balkans region to move beyond coal by 2030 at the latest, accelerating a just transition to renewables that will take it there, and on to climate neutrality by 2050” Viktor Berishaj added. “This brings to the forefront the need for strong progress of the Energy Community process, working to integrate the energy markets of the EU and those of its neighbours. The EU’s support for it will be crucial. The Commission will have a chance of demonstrating its commitment to this goal later this year when it unveils its Green Agenda for the Western Balkans as promised by the European Green Deal. Our collective house is on fire. Time for jump-starting energy transition in the region is quickly running out. This year - if we snooze, we lose”.