A new analysis by environmental group CEE Bankwatch Network has concluded that the planned coal-fired power plants in the Western Balkans do not meet the new stricter EU pollution standards. CEE Bankwatch is the largest network of grassroots, environmental groups in CEE.
On April 28, the EU adopted new technical standards for large combustion plants, the so-called LCP BREF, that detail the best available techniques for controlling air, water and soil pollution, as well as emission limits that must be achieved by applying these techniques.
Bankwatch analysed eight coal-fired units with a combined capacity of 2.6 GW planned in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, as well as the Stanari plant in Bosnia-Herzegovina that started commercial operation last September. It concluded that five of the planned units certainly would not meet the new air pollution limits determined in the BREF, and that there is not sufficient information regarding the remaining three.
The planned coal-fired electricity generation projects studied include Kostolac B3 in Serbia, Pljevlja II in Montenegro, the Oslomej reconstruction in Macedonia, Kosova e Re in Kosovo, as well as Tuzla 7, Banovici and Ugljevik III units 1 and 2 in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Compliance with the LCP BREF is necessary for both the needs of the countries’ EU accession progress, since they would be required to adopt EU law, but also for compliance with domestic regulations, as most Western Balkan states have already adopted legislation stipulating that the EU’s LCP BREF will be used in permitting new coal projects. The new standards must be applied to new plants as soon as they enter force in the EU later in 2017.
Pippa Gallop, Bankwatch’s research co-ordinator and author of the briefing, said: “Of course project promoters will be reluctant to cause delays to their projects by undertaking reviews and taking measures to bring them into line with the new LCP BREF, but failing to do so now will cost them dearly later. The additional costs that the new standards would entail are but the latest warning sign for governments that coal is fast becoming an unbearable liability.”
“Now that electricity companies in the Western Balkans are obliged to adhere to EU market rules, they must do much more to make sure their investments are financially viable and future-proof,” Bankwatch energy co-ordinator Ioana Ciuta said. “They can no longer just go and ask the state for money for additional funds for investment or push legal implementation deadlines ever-further into the future. They need to start looking ahead and examining whether their plans are going to land them in trouble in a few years,” she added.
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