New policy push in West Balkans stirs activity -- Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Slovenia

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After years of inertia, a wind power market is taking shape in the West Balkans, with the Serbian government setting guaranteed prices for renewable energy sources and projects totalling some 750 MW in the pipeline, Macedonia forging renewables legislation and targets and Bosnia-Herzegovina awaiting installation of its first wind turbines this year. The outlook for wind is less certain in Slovenia, which has prioritised other clean energy sources.

The country with most immediate promise in the region may be Serbia, which has an estimated wind power resource of 1.3 GW, but progress has been hampered by a lack of renewable energy know-how, no price support mechanism and wholesale electricity prices hovering as low as EUR 0.05/kWh. The Serbian energy ministry is to introduce mandated purchase prices for electricity from renewables by July, however, and define what type of energy producers will be eligible for them. The price for wind power is expected to be EUR 0.115/kWh.

Illustrating rising confidence in the market by developers is a joint venture by Serbian company Loger and Spain's Gabeira Internacional to build the 100 MW Dolovo wind farm near the north-central city of Pancevo. Originally planned at 25 MW, plans were greatly expanded after the local grid operator announced it would increase capacity on the wires to take more power. Construction is to start this year and the project could be expanded to 350 MW. Other projects on the go include five wind farms with a combined capacity of 330 MW planned by Italian electricity trader and local utility Fintel Multiservizi. It has already received licences for wind farms in Vrsac and Bela Crkva, where construction has started with commissioning slated for 2010, and has submitted applications to develop in Vlasina, Bor and Pirot.


The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is also at a turning point. In May, the economy ministry published guidelines for construction and operation of wind power plants mandating power prices for wind of EUR 0.089/kWh over 20 years. The government requires the electricity market operator to buy all output from wind power plants. In July, the ministry is to publish a wind strength atlas of for several regions and 2020 targets are also expected this year. Eleven European firms have been conducting wind measurements in Macedonia over the past year.

Emboldened by the developments, Spanish company Invall Green Energy is planning to invest EUR 200 million in the 150 MW Stip wind farm; Euro Investments Group, a UK-registered and Tel Aviv-based renewable energy developer, is developing a 180 MW wind farm in central Macedonia; and Slovenian company Mosen plans to invest some EUR 180 million in a 159 MW wind farm in Krusevo, south-west Macedonia.


Bosnia-Herzegovina's estimated 1 GW of wind power potential has gone untapped amid bureaucratic foot dragging. But Bosnian state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda BiH is now making its debut in the wind sector after forming partnerships in September with project developers Vjetroenergetika and Bosnian-Slovenian firm Energy 3. Together with Vjetroenergetika, the utility plans to develop wind projects in Unsko-Sanski, in the north-west, through a joint venture called EP BiH VINK Mostar, and areas with similar resources. Vjetroenergetika is owned by Austria's Windkraft Simonsfeld and already holds a concession for a 46 MW wind farm near Velez Mountain, in the south. Construction work is to begin this month. The Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, in Mostar, is measuring wind energy potential at 33 locations across the country -- mostly in Livno, Tomislavgrad, Mostar and Nevesinje. Early results suggest considerable wind resources.

Montenegro and Slovenia

The government of Montenegro is trying to keep the momentum going from 2007, when it adopted an energy plan envisioning the installation of 60 MW of wind power. Now it is investigating whether the grid can handle more. Studies suggest good wind resources along the Adriatic coast and Rumija, between Bar and Skadarsko Lake, is seen as a prime location with average wind speeds of 6-7 m/s and a nearby power line. A call for proposals by the government is expected in the first half of the year for provision of a 10 MW wind farm on Rumija mountain. Companies from Spain, China, the US and Italy are mentioned as potential participants. Spanish Iberdrola is a frontrunner. Montenegrin energy supplier EPCG will be required to buy all electricity from the wind plant.

The EU Renewable Energy Directive passed in December obliges Slovenia to increase the share of renewables in its energy mix to 25% by 2020, from the current 9.4%. Towards that end, a national energy program calls for 300 MW of wind power by 2010 and 600 MW by 2020. With the installation of 86 turbines with a combined capacity of 73 MW in the Primorska Region, Slovenia could reduce CO2 emissions by 1.6 million tonnes. The initiative is off to a rocky start, however: environmental concerns have put a stop to wind energy projects. Slovenia's environment ministry believes priority should be given to hydro, solar and biomass power plant.

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