Four Southeast European countries commit to exiting coal energy

Four Southeast European countries commit to exiting coal energy
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia July 1, 2021

Four Southeast European countries – Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia – as well as Spain joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) members on June 30, committing to exiting coal energy completely in the coming years, the PPCA said in a statement.

The step is most significant for Montenegro and North Macedonia, which generate around half of their electricity from coal. By contrast Albania is almost entirely dependent on hydropower with no coal power stations. 

The PPCA is a coalition of national and sub-national governments, companies and organisations working to advance the transition from coal power generation to clean energy.

North Macedonia plan to phase out coal by 2027. “North Macedonia has submitted an enhanced NDC to the Paris Agreement earlier this year, committing to 51% emission cuts by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This is an ambitious target for a country whose electricity production is heavily relying on coal. In moving away from it, our key challenge is the just transition one. By joining this alliance, we believe we can cooperate and help each other achieve a smoother and faster transition to cleaner energy sources. This is urgently needed to reach the global climate targets,” North Macedonia’s Environment Minister Naser Nuredini said.

In Montenegro, which also gets around half of its energy from coal-fired plants, the goal is to exit that energy by 2035.

“The coal power plant and mine have been the backbone of Montenegro's energy system and the source of socio-economic status of the entire northern part of the country. Our biggest challenge now is how to properly implement the green energy transition, while ensuring support for affected workers and communities. Montenegro has committed to ending coal power generation by 2035. But with the assistance of our foreign partners, in financial and institutional terms, we will be able to move away from coal even faster,” Mladen Bojanic, Montenegro’s capital investment minister, said in the statement.

Croatia has committed to work with the PPCA to set a coal phase-out date in the near future, while Albania has one of the highest shares of renewables in the region, PPCA noted.

PPCA members include 25 European governments with 134GW of coal capacity either retired since 2010 or scheduled to retire before 2030.

Also joining the initiative on June 30 were the Polish region Eastern Wielkopolska and utility ZE PAK, and several businesses and financial institutions — French asset manager Amundi, the European Sustainable Investment Forum, Canadian utility Capital Power, engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).