Macedonia: Public divided on new HPPs Lukovo Polje and Boskov most, dependency of electricity imports may be decreased

, SEE Energy News

Two new HPP projects – Lukovo polje and Boškov most project could significantly reduce the dependence of Macedonia on the electricity import. The Lukovo polje Project includes the construction of the dam and storage, of the total capacity 39 million cubic meters of water, and represents the upgrade of the existing system of Mavrovo power plants. Hydro power plants are to be built on the mountain Korab, at the tripoint with Albania and Kosovo.

This project implementation would increase the electricity production in Mavrovo power plants by 25%. The project, worth 62 million euros and the major portion of it, 52 million euros, is to be financed by World Bank loan, while the remaining financial means would be provided by ELEM from their own resources.

This project is of a great import to Macedonia that has been facing problems with electricity production for a number of years back, and the large import creates a large trade deficit. ELEM says that the project should be top priority of power investments, since it would help the regional economy.

The increase of the power production anticipated by this project is 160GWh a year. The Project envisages the construction of the dam on the Radika river, redirecting the water towards three power plants – Vrben, Vrutok and Raven, resulting in the realization of the major portion of increased production, and minor portion through a new hydro power plant Crni kamen, with 5 MW of power. New hydro power plant, to be built three kilometers downstream of dam, with three power plants will make a unified system.

The Lukovo polje project has divided the Macedonians. The locals fear the Radika River and its tributaries would dry up, while environmentalists warn the project could cause flooding of the National park Mavrovo and endanger the flora and fauna. This caused protests in Albania, and fierce discussions in the Albanian parliament.

The World Bank has also something to add regarding this topic. In its press release, the Bank reminds that the project goal, proposed by the government of Macedonia in 2011, is to increase the share of renewable energy sources and to reduce the dependence of electricity production on precipitation variations by constructing the accumulation storages.

Preliminary estimates show that the proposed project would have a limited impact on the water quantities used from the Radika River. These quantities are expected to be significantly below 8 cubic meters per second, which is the top limit in accordance with the Agreement signed by former Yugoslavia and Albania in 1962, ratified by Macedonia.

Some 40 kilometers to the south, the construction of accumulation storage is planned, as well hydropower plant Boškov most. The project includes the construction of accumulation dam at the Mala reka, near Debar and the power plant of 68 MW capacity. For the implementation of the project a Loan Agreement, worth 65 million euros was signed with EBRD three years ago. Total project value amounts to 84 million euros.

However, the future of this project, qualified in Macedonia as a strategic one, is uncertain since two tenders for the construction of the dam and the power plant Boškov most were unsuccessful.

ELEM develops several other projects for the construction of the power plants. The most ambitious one is the pumped-storage hydropower plant Čebren, worth astounding 318 million euros. For the HPP Čebren several unsuccessful tenders were announced. Besides, at the feasibility study level, the project of construction of ten hydropower plants in the valley of the Vardar River, with 16 to 24 MW of power, and thus the water potential of the Vardar River would be used. Potential project are also HPP Galište, Gradec and Veles, HPP Veles requires relocation of the railroad Skoplje –Veles. The important potential of Macedonia comprises small HPPs, which could be constructed at even 400 locations, as showed by the World Bank analysis.

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