Kosovo’s options for a sustainable energy future

20 April 2012 | Minutes

Minutes of presentation and discussion on Kosovo’s options to develop a sustainable energy future, Washington DC, 20 April 2012.

Speakers: Nezir Sinani (Institute for Development Policy), Bruce Buckheit (former Officer, Environmental Protection Agency), Jonathan Buoncore (School of Public Health, Harvard University), Steve Herz (Sierra Club)

Moderator: Barbara Gottlieb (Physicians for Social Responsibility)

A presentation and discussion on Kosovo’s options to develop a sustainable energy future. The debate will be focused around the involvement of the World Bank in developing this sector in the country. Kosovo CSOs oppose the plan to build a new lignite power plant in Kosovo and want the World Bank to change Kosovo’s energy path by shifting the planned investment in lignite into investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, better demand-side management, retrofitting and regional cooperation.

Barbara Gottlieb

  • Sometimes WB need to reconsider its decisions
  • Coal plant may seem obvious in regards to Kosovo’s energy needs but there are issues, eg costs may be greater than initially estimated, including health implications, which is paid by local people, not by the people implementing it

Nezir Sinani

  • WB involved in the coal power plant, also in privatising energy grid
  • Kosovo civil society works with institutions and distinguished experts (incl Daniel Kammen, formerly WB) to figure out what project will mean and analyse WB documents,

Video screening

  • WB wants to solve Kosovo’s energy needs with new coal power plant, close to the capital where 2 existing coal plants are already creating an environmental nightmare and health implications for the citizens
  • No comprehensive study has been done, but studies in the US proves health impact and costs of coal power
  • Entry to EU will also be problematic and costly, as paying for CO2 emissions and costs will go up in particular for ignites
  • There is a need to diversify, identify other options
  • Lobbying in DC has led to policy makers becoming increasingly sensitive about the project
  • Medupi Eskom power plant in South Africa, residents are starting to organise due to impacts, incl air pollution and health impacts, no water for people
  • Complaint filed to WB, investigation by IP concluded that WB has failed on environmental and health impacts, but power plant has already been built
  • Same problems expected in Kosovo
  • WB President Zoellick defends the decision, referring to lack of electricity for people and industry – but the electricity is too expensive to go to the poor
  • Zoellick: the proposal is to shut down 40 year old power plant, clean up other one and build a new one. Looked at alternative energy sources and proposal reviewed by independent experts
  • Daniel Kammen went to Kosovo to assess after resignation from WB. Concluded that Kosovo can produce energy through solar and wind, biomass, along with hydro to provide options for roughly the same costs to meet current and future energy needs – energy efficiency needs to be central
  • WB expert panel recommendations is in line with WB policies, final deliberations in 2012 on coal plant project

Bruce Buckheit

  • Looked at economic issues (not environmental), what is the best use of available financial resources to meet Kosovo’s electricity needs?
  • Large technical losses in current systems, leaking transformers etc
  • Early boiler design had risk of explosion, now evolved to modern boilers with piping systems that takes time to ramp up and down. Pollution control elements modular at the back end
  • Natural gas expensive to run when on, but can be turned off when not needed, so efficient in this way
  • Electricity can’t be meaningfully stored, so have to manage generation to match the load – daily and seasonal variation
  • Kosovo best served by base load units, eg nuclear or base load coal, coupled with swing units that can be ramped up faster than base load unit
  • If to eliminate or reduce losses Kosovo would need other than base load, as not the most efficient use
  • Question why any private company would want to buy into Kosovo’s electricity system, privatising no magic solution


  • Needs assessments
  • Better grid integration
  • Complete upgrade of Kosovo B
  • Reduce technical and non technical losses
  • Peak shaving and energy efficiency programmes
  • Add integrated wind power generation
  • Add natural gas to avoid black outs

Jonathan Buoncore

  • Health impacts of coal, US study
  • External costs of coal generation in the US, largely driven by air pollution with health impacts, also climate change social costs of carbon – measured by economic damage of one tone of CO2
  • Coal mining mortality driver of costs, also air pollution, contributes to asthma, lung cancer etc
  • Health effects impacting heart, lungs, blood, brain, vasculature etc, eg increased rate of heart attacks
  • Children high risks, can impair lung development, increase school absence, etc
  • Mercury impacts, emitted from power plants – rains into deposits of water, bacteria transforms into methylmercury, which can transfer to food chain with evidence linked to health impacts
  • Kosovo proposed plant is near and upwind of capital, so high level emissions likely with high public health impacts

Steve Herz

  • WB policy starting to grapple with complexities in a carbon constrained world – climate mitigation is one of the core objectives
  • WB produced a strategy document on climate change, including specific conditions to be met to support coal power plants, e.g. demonstrated development impact (incl increasing energy access), assistance to provide low carbon projects, must assess meeting country energy needs in terms of energy efficiency, must consider all viable alternatives and best technology for reducing GHG emissions
  • Once WB is satisfied it has met its criteria, it must convene an expert panel
  • Independent evaluation group concluded coal support should be the last resource
  • But expert panel found WB to be consistent on all six areas, incl would improve energy access – but it’s not just about balancing supply and demand
  • Assistance for low carbon technologies, exp panel concedes more analytical work needed re wind or natural gas potential etc, but didn’t discuss any commitments for the WB to address these
  • Guidelines puts burden of proof on the WB, but no evidence that WB has done the analysis, no quantifying of opportunities
  • Full consideration of alternatives, external costs etc – WB has not fully accounted for externalities, alternatives, also reasons to believe this project is not the low cost option, not assessed health impacts including the mine itself
  • Regarding best available technology, there are more efficient alternatives out there