World Bank reconsiders support for coal in Kosovo

27 September 2018

The World Bank is reportedly considering withdrawing support for a proposed 500MW coal-fired power plant in Kosovo, the last coal project in its project pipeline that is not subject to the institution’s 2013 moratorium on coal project finance (see Bulletin December 2013). The Kosovar government signed a deal in 2017 with US-based firm ContourGlobal to build the plant at a cost of around €1 billion, according to a June report by Reuters. The Reuters report stated that the Bank had previously indicated it would back the project, but is now finalising an energy options study that will compare investment in coal to other options before choosing whether to provide finance for the project. A Bank spokesperson told Reuters, “The pace of technology change in the energy sector is moving fast, especially in renewables, such as solar, wind, and storage, where prices continue to decline.”

“The next step for the World Bank, after its withdrawal from coal in Kosovo, is to shift its funding to clean energy options in the country,” said Nezir Sinani of Netherlands-based civil society organisation Bank Information Center Europe, who is also an anti-coal activist from Kosovo. “The Bank should use its capacity and knowledge to help the Kosovar government green its energy sector to meet the increasing electricity demand.”

Online media outlet Climate Wire noted in June that this is the latest iteration of Kosovo’s proposed coal plant, which has gone through several incarnations since it was originally mooted in the early 2000s – ranging from a 2100MW facility to the currently proposed 500MW version.

Despite the Bank’s 2013 ban on coal project finance, civil society groups remain concerned that the Bank continues to finance coal through the ‘backdoor’ via the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC, the World Bank’s private lending arm) investments in financial intermediaries that are involved in financing new coal plants (see Observer Winter 2017, Winter 2017-2018).