NEWS Kammen & Kittner in The Economist: ‘Energy in the Balkans’
One critical way to expedite EU integration of the Balkans (“Knocking on Heavens Door”, August 29th) is to start by building an integrated energy system compliant with EU environmental standards and regulations. The proposed coal-fired power plant in Kosovo remains a prime example of a project that could set back EU accession by decades. Relying on lignite coal for electricity production in the region is not sustainable for the environment or public health. Linking electricity markets to take advantage of load balancing through hydropower projects in Albania and by creating a regional low-carbon roadmap will require significant cooperation—leadership traits that go hand-in-hand with joining the EU.
As the region expects to retire coal capacity in the coming decade, an opportunity emerges for a new energy system to jumpstart the lagging economy and enable a sustainable transition to the EU. However, new proposed coal plants in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo conflict with that vision. With Montenegro and Serbia expected to accede by 2020 and 2022, respectively, environmental and health considerations should become a priority to avoid further costs. Building a sustainable energy system is essential for economic growth in the Balkan region.
Professor and Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley