Western Balkan: Air pollution limits breached for the second year in a row

, SEE Energy News

For the second year in a row, Western Balkan’s coal- fired power plants breach pollution limits by 6 times.

Two and a half years since pollution control legislation under the Energy Community Treaty obliged Western Balkan governments to apply EU norms, a new Bankwatch CEE analysis finds air pollution, primarily sulfur dioxide (SO2) and dust emissions, from coal-fired power plants remains high.

The new analysis shows that, instead of getting closer to compliance, SO2 emissions at coal power plants covered by National Emission Reduction Plans in the Western Balkans have overall increased.

The total SO2 emissions from coal-fired plants in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia reached nearly six times the amount allowed by the countries’ plans in 2019. The key culprits were in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia but, worryingly, TPP Bitola complex in North Macedonia doubled its SO2 emissions in 2019.

Three years after desulfurization equipment was installed at Serbian TPP Kostolac B, the plant is still the second largest SO2 emitter in the region, single-handedly breaching the national ceiling by 1.5 times. It is topped only by TPP Ugljevik in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has also fitted SO2 reduction equipment, but the equipment is not yet functional.

Despite a slight decrease in 2019, dust emissions from the analyzed power plants in these four countries remained at nearly 1.6 times the combined threshold. In particular, TPP Kosova B power plant in Kosovo remained the region’s top dust polluter, emitting 5.4 times as much as its emissions ceiling.

National Emissions Reduction Plans are a mechanism which makes it easier for the countries to reach compliance, as the obligatory emissions ceiling is set at the national level, rather than per individual plant. By the end of 2027, all plants must be in compliance with emission limit values individually as well. All of the region’s coal plants, except a few smaller ones, are included in such plans.