Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), with North Macedonia planning to phase out coal-fired power stations by 2027 and potentially become the first coal-free country in the Western Balkans, the Alliance said.
Montenegro plans to phase out coal by 2035, whereas Croatia has committed to working with the alliance to set a coal phase-out date soon, the PPCA said in a statement on Wednesday.
North Macedonia currently gets around half of its power from burning lignite, the PPCA.
"North Macedonia has submitted an enhanced [nationally determined contributions] 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,” Naser Nuredini, minister of environment of North Macedonia, said in the statement.
The country has two coal-fired power stations - REK Bitola and REK Oslomej. The government recently signed contracts with Bulgarian solar energy group Solarpro Holding and Turkey's Fortis Energy Electric for the construction of photovoltaic power plants of combined 100 MW worth 70 million euro ($83.1 million) at REK Oslomej.
“The coal power plant and mine have been the backbone of Montenegro's energy system and the source of socio-economic status of the entire northern part of the country. Our biggest challenge now is how to properly implement the green energy transition, while ensuring support for affected workers and communities," Mladen Bojanic, Montenegro's minister of capital investments, said.
"Montenegro has committed to ending coal power generation by 2035. But with the assistance of our foreign partners, in financial and institutional terms, we will be able to move away from coal even faster,” he added.
The PPCA is a group of countries, cities, regions and organisations aiming to accelerate the fossil-fuel phase out of coal-fired power stations. PPCA members now include 25 European governments.
($ = 0.8420 euro)
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