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EBRD Platform Initiative in Support of Coal Regions in Transition in Western Balkans and Ukraine

/28th January 2021, Vanora Bennett, EBRD, RENEWABLE MARKET WATCHTM/ The Organisations behind the Platform Initiative in Support of Coal Regions in Transition in Western Balkans and Ukraine agreed to join efforts to support the transition away from coal and towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future in the Western Balkans and Ukraine. Participants including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD),World Bank Group, the College of Europe (Natolin campus), the Energy Community Secretariat, the European Commission and the government of Poland kicked off discussions on how to support the regions in phasing out coal while supporting local communities that remain economically dependent on the coal industry.

With its extensive on-the-ground experience in the Western Balkans and Ukraine, and its strategic emphasis on an energy transition which is green and inclusive, the EBRD confirmed its commitment to providing finance for investments that will support the transition from coal. Such investments may include projects which promote clean energy, targeted support to workers in the coal industry, or economic diversification.

Zsuzsana Hargitai, the EBRD’s Director for the Western Balkans, said: “The EBRD has financed nearly 500 MW of wind and solar capacity in the Western Balkans region in the last three years. In Serbia we financed the two largest windfarms in the Balkans, Dolovo and Kovacica, and in Montenegro the Krnovo windfarm. In Kosovo we supported windfarms Bajgora and Kitka that will help the country that has relied for so long on lignite to begin to exploit its renewable potential. In North Macedonia we support construction of the solar power plant on the site of an old lignite mine at Oslomej. We are also supporting governments to develop renewable tenders including a milestone solar auction in Albania which resulted in the lowest cost of power in the region. We are pleased to see the start of the coal transition process in the Western Balkans and Ukraine and we stand ready to provide both policy dialogue, technical assistance and financing support to the governments to shift from coal to clean energy sources”.

The Platform Initiative in Support of Coal Regions in Transition in Western Balkans and Ukraine, created in September 2019, will assist the coal regions of the Western Balkans and Ukraine in developing and implementing comprehensive policies that enable inclusive strategies for transitioning to low-carbon energy systems. It brings together international institutions and partners in both areas to deliver knowledge, share lessons learned from regions in the European Union and beyond, and provide planning support and financing.

The initiative was established after Western Balkan countries made a commitment to move towards clean energy in the Podgorica Joint Statement of 21 February 2019 and Ukraine expressed a similar wish through its 2050 Low Emission Development Strategy of November 2017. The establishment of the Platform mirrors a similar approach within the EU, where a “Just Transition Platform” supports the implementation of the Just Transition Mechanism. This pledges at least €100 billion in investments over the period 2021-2027 to support workers and citizens of regions where high-carbon assets are located.

The EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach 2021-25 aims to increase the Bank’s green financing to more than half its annual business volume by 2020, while helping countries where it works build low carbon and resilient economies. In line with the Paris Agreement and the GET approach, the EBRD’s own Just Transition Initiative, launched this year, aims to ensure the benefits of a green economy transition are shared, while protecting vulnerable countries, regions and people from falling behind. It will do this by combining its expertise on green economy investments with its focus on economic inclusion..

Since 2006, the EBRD has invested more than €3 billion in the “greening” of the  Western Balkans region. Together with providing funding, the Bank is also very active in engaging with national governments to reform legal and policy frameworks to create an environment in which individual projects can succeed, and a wider impact is possible. For instance, in North Macedonia, an energy efficiency law drafted with EBRD support and approved by the government has recently passed its first reading in parliament; meanwhile, on the renewable side, the EBRD support was crucial in launching and awarding the first private solar photovoltaic competitive auction in the country.

Large-scale investments in renewable energy projects are providing alternative power sources to traditional coal, and work is being carried out to modernise the district heating networks across the region. In the Western Balkans Solar and Wind Power Market: Outlooks 2020÷2030, more than 135 solar and wind projects across the region are featured, but some of the most important have been financed with the EBRD's support and are as follows:

1) In Albania, the EBRD financed the modernisation of Korporata Elektroenergjitike Shqiptare (KESH), the largest generator of electricity in the country, supporting the company with a restructuring and reform package.

2) The Bank financed the first two large-scale wind farms in Kosovo: Kitka and Bajgora wind farms, providing a concrete way forward to address the challenge of power cuts and pollution caused by the lignite coal powering Kosovo’s two main electricity plants.

3) In Montenegro, following a long policy dialogue on the bankability of the power purchase agreement, the EBRD was the first financial institution to structure a project finance loan for the Krnovo wind farm, the first private wind farm in the country and at the time of financial close also the first private wind farm in the Western Balkans region.

4) In North Macedonia, the EBRD financed ESM, the first large-scale solar power plant on the site of an exhausted lignite coal mine, representing a tangible example of how to implement some of the solutions of the EU Just Transition policy for coal mine regions in the Western Balkans.

5) In Serbia, the Bank backed the construction of the country’s two largest wind farms: the 158MW Čibuk wind farm in Dolovo; and the Kovacica wind farm with a capacity of 104 MW.

The more information and answers to your questions about Western Balkan's solar and wind energy markets, you may read here: Western Balkans Solar and Wind Power Market: Outlooks 2020÷2030

For a better understanding of the benefits of using our reports, you may read here: Benefit List - Reports of Renewable Market Watch - 2021

To download the executive summary brochure with sample pages for the solar sector, please access from here: Western Balkans Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Market Outlook - Sample

To download the executive summary brochure with sample pages for the wind sector, please access from here: Western Balkans Wind Power Market Outlook - Sample

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