Kosovo’s power plants, among the biggest polluters in Europe

Kosovo’s power plants are still among the biggest polluters in Europe, according to research published by Bankwatch Network, a group of environmental non-governmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe.

The research shows that Western Balkan countries breach air pollution limits for coal plants agreed with the Energy Community by as much as six times for one toxic substance. According to the research, total sulfur dioxide emissions from coal plants in Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and North Macedonia were more than six times as high in 2018 as the overall ceiling agreed with the Energy Community in the countries’ National Emission Reduction Plans.

In Kosovo’s case, which produces electricity from coal, the Kosova B power plant is considered among the biggest polluters. Learta Hollaj, from the Pristina-based INDEP research institute, told the news website: “In fact, due to lack of investments in filters in the last couple of years, Kosova B has such a high emission that we make up half of the total of allowed emissions for the whole region. This makes us think that this is high time to make investments in this direction and fortunately we have received news that through an EU aid there will be investments in the filters of Kosova B”.

The report also criticizes Kosovo for failing to monitor the level of air pollution from power plants. 

Kosovo’s outgoing Minister for Environment, Fatmir Matoshi, admits that Kosovo’s power plants need additional investments, adding that the installation of filters at Kosova B power plant would considerably lower the level of air pollution. “The filters at Kosova B will be changed because the funds have been approved and the project is under implementation. Second, we expect the contract for the new power plant to be concluded soon and for the Kosova A power plant to be closed,” he said.

The Bankwatch Network also suggests that the EU and the Energy Community also need to develop mechanisms, such as a tax on CO2, or the recently proposed border carbon tax, to ensure that heavy polluters cannot so easily use their lack of investments in pollution control as a market advantage in exporting electricity to the EU.

Matoshi, however, said that Kosovo is more interested in improving internal arrangements for the environment and the energy rather deal with the international factor. “We are excluded from every investment, from every fund that is allocated for the region and funds from the United Nations. This means that if they keep on ignoring us, we won’t care too much if we are violating directives for others. It is in our interest to have cleaner air and improve the situation in Kosovo. We don’t worry much about the international factor because they are the ones that are excluding us,” he argued.

Matoshi said that despite criticism from different organizations, Kosovo maintains a state policy for coal-based energy production. 

Learta Hollaj from INDEP meanwhile argues that Kosovo needs to shut down the Kosova A power plant and that its closure should not be linked to the construction of the new power plant, Kosova e Re. “It is unacceptable for an outdated power plant that exceeds all possible ceilings to affect our environment and to condition it with the construction of a new power plant. This makes us think that we need to undertake urgent measures to rehabilitate or close this power plant and to seek alternative methods for energy production,” Hollaj said.

Autor: RFE