Economic Viability of Alternatives for Lignite-free Electricity Production in North Macedonia: The Case of TTP Oslomej
Annual Review of Territorial Governance in the Western Balkans, II, 2020, 140-149 Journal
Vesna Garvanlieva Andonova, Marjan Nikolov
The Republic of North Macedonia (RNM) is undergoing a complex process of integration into the European Union (EU) including the alignment of environmental protection policies, which is one of the most challenging and cumbersome sectors. After signing the relevant international agreements and increasing awareness about the damage that fuel (lignite, coal) causes to the environment and human life, this energy source’s popularity began to decline significantly. Coal usage as an electricity input in North Macedonia is less and less attractive, particularly given the low quality and limited coal reserves, coupled with changes in the strengthened European environmental legislation and increasing competition from renewable energy sources (RES). The impact of these trends will be most acutely felt in the Southwest planning region of North Macedonia, where the Oslomej thermal power plant (TPP) (one of two in the country) is located. Although the plant’s lifespan is almost over, it has a significant effect on the local economy, both directly and indirectly. The sector (mining and electricity production) employs a noteworthy number of people and contributes to the regional economic value added. The lack of a clear approach to manage the anticipated post-lignite effects of Oslomej’s possible decommissioning in a timely and integrated manner is evident, as institutionally-coordinated initiatives to prepare for the transition are lacking (at least as far as the public is aware). This article intends to illustrate the economically viable alternatives to be considered for reducing or mitigating the negative economic effects of the post-lignite era within the framework of an adequate and timely approach to the transition.