Northern Macedonia’s dependence on electricity imports is growing steadily. Instead of increasing domestic production, the country is recording an increase in imports. The World Bank also points out that energy dependence could become a serious problem in its latest semi-annual report on the economies of the Western Balkans.
Northern Macedonia is an import-dependent country in terms of electricity needs. Imports in recent years have covered from 20% to 30% of total gross electricity consumption and are directly dependent on domestic production. In 2021, net electricity imports had a share of 33.15%, while in 2020 they amounted to 31.4% of total gross consumption, according to the annual report of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERO).
The energy crisis, rising prices and Macedonia’s and the Western Balkans’ energy dependence on energy are some of the topics highlighted by World Bank officials, stressing the need to boost domestic production and improve energy efficiency.
Of all the countries in the Western Balkans, Albania and Northern Macedonia rely most on electricity imports. Macedonia imports 34% of its energy, making it vulnerable to regional and global shocks.
The ESM increased the cost of energy imports, which led to rising prices despite subsidies. Also, many households have a problem providing heating for their homes.
Recommendations for overcoming the situation are to increase energy efficiency, supply from various sources, use solar energy, wind energy, increase production for household needs, use energy storage capacity, says Redon Begoli, a senior energy specialist at the World Bank.
ERO data show that thermal power plants have the largest share in the country’s electricity production with 39.8%, followed by combined power plants with 28.7% and hydro power plants with 27.5%, while the share of other producers is 4%. In 2021, four companies operated power plants with individual installed capacity of more than 10 MW – ESM, TE-TO, TPP Negotino and EVN Macedonia.
The total installed capacity of Macedonian power plants in 2021 was 2,117.4 MW, which is 14.2 MWa more than in 2020. Most of the new power plants are photovoltaic power plants, with a total installed capacity of 14 MW, or small hydropower plants, with a total installed capacity of 0 , 2 MW.
The production of electricity from renewable energy sources varies on an annual basis and primarily depends on the hydrological situation. In the total production of electricity in 2021, renewable energy sources participate with 31.5%, which is 15% more than in 2020, while the production of electricity from thermal power plants had 68.5% share, 17% less than in 2020.
Electricity imports in 2021 increased by 12% annually, to 2,621 GWh. This is a consequence of a significant decline in domestic production and an increase in gross electricity consumption.