Region, Coal-fired TPPs are still the largest polluters

, SEE Energy News

According to a report by CEE Bankwatch Network, in 2021, Western Balkan coal-fired thermal power plants flagrantly breached air pollution legislation under the Energy Community Treaty for the fourth year in a row, emitting five times as much sulfur dioxide and 1.8 times as much particulate matter as allowed.

The entry into force of new legal standards on 1 January 2018 should have brought reductions in air pollution. But the report shows that in 2021, particulate emissions from coal-fired plants included in the National Emissions Reduction Plans (NERPs) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia increased compared to previous years, while sulfur dioxide emissions only decreased slightly.

TPP Ugljevik in Bosnia and Herzegovina again emitted the most sulfur dioxide in the region in 2021 (86,774 tons), despite having desulfurization equipment installed which was paid 85 million euros. Its emissions were similar to 2019, so even two years after testing began, the desulfurization equipment clearly did not work.

The highest dust polluter in 2021 was TPP Gacko in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose emissions more than tripled to 4,960 tons in 2021, which is more than 16 times as much as allowed by the country’s NERP.

Montenegrin TPP Pljevlja also breached the Energy Community Treaty in 2021 by operating for more than 20,000 hours from 1 January 2018 without undertaking pollution control investments.

The year ended with a region-wide energy crisis with coal supply problems and coal plants in Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo collapsing one after another. Coupled with poor hydrological conditions and high electricity import prices, this diverted attention from tackling pollution and in early 2022 provided a pretext for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to approve an illegal lifetime extension for the TPP Tuzla units 4 and 5 and for North Macedonia to start up an oil-fired plant after being in reserve for years.