WIND

Western Balkans: Serbia leads the way

Serbia is conducting its first renewable energy tender, but it is not the only country in the Western Balkans that is seeking more onshore wind capacity. We look at the state of onshore wind across the region.

RICHARD HEAP

August 10, 2023

  • WindEurope forecasts Serbia will add 1.5GW of wind capacity by 2027
  • The country leads the Western Balkans with 374MW already installed
  • Albania revealed three winners in its first onshore wind tender in July

This month, the Serbian government is closing its first renewable energy tender, in which it is seeking to award support for 400MW of wind and 50MW of solar projects.

This is the first phase of support that Serbia is looking to award over three years, for developments totalling 1.3GW. It also shows how countries in the Western Balkans in southeast Europe are looking to move to renewable energy, including wind.

In this article, we look at the prospects for wind in the six countries in the region, including statistics from WindEurope’s 2023 onshore wind report:

Albania

Total wind (end of 2022): 0MW

Projected installations (2023-2027): 120MW

Albania has a reported 7GW of wind and solar potential, but is making slow progress to unlock it. Investors have faced hurdles with bureaucracy and an inadequate grid – which are challenges that face developers and investors in many Balkans countries.

And yet projects are coming. Biopower Green Energy and Marseglia Group revealed plans for a 234MW project last April; and, in late July 2023, the government awarded support to Guris, Total Eren and Verbund for three projects totalling 222.5MW in the country’s first utility-scale onshore wind tender.

Finally, the country is looking at how it can develop offshore wind in the Adriatic.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Total wind: 135MW

Projected installations (2023-2027): 460MW

Bosnia & Herzegovina shared its 2030 draft energy and climate plan in April 2023, in which it committed to close coal-fired power generation and install renewable energy plants totalling 2GW by 2030. Solar is due to make up most (1.5GW) of that capacity, but it still leaves space for the large wind projects.

This year, we have seen developers progressing projects such as the 138MW Slovinj wind farm by Vjetoelektrane; the 132MW Poklečani development by Elektroprivereda HZ HB; and the 50MW Vlašić by Elektroprivereda Bosne I Hercegovine.

However, the country’s energy transition has faced headwinds due to the strength of the coal industry, delays in connecting projects to the grid, and corruption.

Kosovo

Total wind: 137MW

Projected installations (2023-2027): Unavailable

Kosovo launched an energy strategy in March that committed the country to reach 1.6GW of renewables capacity by 2031. This is a major commitment given that the country has a population of only two million people and the need to invest more in the electricity grid, including strengthening its links to Albania and Serbia.

German developer Notus Energy commissioned the 102.6MW Bajhora wind farm in the Selac region in October 2021, and there is little prospect of it being overtaken as the country’s biggest wind farm. Other big wind farms in development include Akuo’s 92MW Cicavica scheme and NEK Umwelltechnik’s 48MW Budakova.

Montenegro

Total wind: 118MW

Projected installations (2023-2027): 160MW

The recent discussion about wind energy in Montenegro has focused on allegations of corruption related to the sale of the Možura wind farm to utility Enemalta in 2015.

Despite that, the Montenegrin government said it is committed to move to low-carbon energy sources and that its transition relied on cooperation with neighbouring Balkan countries. The country’s first wind farm, the 72MW Krnovo project, was completed in December 2018; and ongoing schemes include Wpd’s 101MW Brajići project and the 55MW Gvozd project by Elektroprivreda Crne Gore AD Niksic and Green Gvozd.

North Macedonia

Total wind: 37MW

Projected installations (2023-2027): 370MW

North Macedonian utility ELEM commissioned the 37MW first phase of the Bogdanci wind complex in 2014, and there has been precious little activity since.

However, the country is making progress on renewable energy. Last year, it was the first country in the Western Balkans to adopt its National Energy & Climate Plan: it is not part of the European Union but is connected to the EU’s energy market. Its plan commits it to close coal plants by 2027 and grow renewables, which is why it could see tenfold growth in wind over the next five years.

Current projects include Wpd’s 415MW Virovi complex; the 50MW Miravci scheme by Elektrani na Severna Makedonija; and a second 50MW phase of Bogdanci.

Serbia

Total wind: 374MW

Projected installations (2023-2027): 1.5GW

Serbia is the powerhouse of the Western Balkans, with its 400MW tender ongoing and a total of 1.3GW wind and solar capacity to be tendered in the next three years.

This commitment has attracted the interest of developers and investors, with major projects including the 854MW Maestrale Ring project by Fintel Energija; the 300MW Vetrozelena project by CWP Europe and Power China Resources; and the 150MW Crni Vrh development by local company Crni Vrh Power.

Serbia’s current largest wind farm is the Čibuk 1 (157MW) that was commissioned by Middle Eastern developer Masdar in 2019.

Serbia has a goal that 40% of its electricity should come from renewable sources by 2030, including 3GW of wind power, but there are still obstacles for developers and investors. These include the unambitious timeline to phase out coal, which is due by 2050, and challenges with securing access for projects to the electricity grid.

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