The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced funding of €5.9m to the Macedonia state-owned electricity company ELEM to build a large-scale solar power plant on the site of an exhausted lignite coal mine.
The project is ELEM’s first solar power plant and is expected to be the largest one in the country. The project’s total costs are estimated to be €8.7m.
Once operational, the plant is expected to produce approximately 15GWh electricity per annum and reduce 12,177 tons of CO2 emissions per annum.
The project is also anticipated to support ELEM’s efforts to rehabilitate the 26 hectare mine site that used to supply the TPP with coal.
Macedonia’s capital city Skopje, which was recently named one of Europe’s most polluted cities, aims to procure 23% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
EBRD, in a statement, said: “This project will help the country reduce its reliance on ageing lignite-fired infrastructure and also help the local community in the Kicevo municipality, traditionally reliant on lignite mining and generation, to develop more sustainable practices.”
Macedonian government-owned public electricity generation utility ELEM delivers 90% of the country’s domestic electricity production. It supplies approximately 3,600GWh power from two thermal power plants and 1,250GWh from eight hydropower plants.
Apart from these, ELEM also operates two combined heat and power facilities and a wind farm to produce approximately 100GWh per annum.
The new solar project agreements are signed by the EBRD’s power and energy utilities head Harry Boyd-Carpenter and ELEM chief executive officer Dragan Minovski, in Skopje.
EBRD is also assisting in designing competitive renewable tenders for 200MW of solar capacity and 150MW of wind power capacity, supporting Macedonia’s decarbonization and renewable energy targets.
Apart from the EBRD’s financing, Italy is offering approximately €75,000 towards technical due diligence and EBRD Shareholders Special Fund (SSF) is providing €75,000 for environmental and social due diligence.
The EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) Project Preparation and Implementation Framework is expected to support the company during project implementation. EBRD claims to have invested more than €1.8bn in 113 projects in the Macedonian economy.