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Macedonia strives to improve regional energy networking

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The Macedonian government’s economic council is working on strategic projects in the energy sector aimed at reducing energy dependency on foreign sources and improving energy networking in the region.

“They include building a new 400 KW inter-connective power line from Shtip in Macedonia to Nis in Serbia; another 400KW power line between Bitola in Macedonia and Elbasan in Albania; and an action plan for a new power line to Kosovo,” Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Pesevski said.

The existing power line between Kosovo and Macedonia doesn’t function, requiring construction of a new one.

Macedonia’s state energy company MEPSO, which operates with the energy carrying networks and manages the country’s electrical system, includes the projects in its investment programme.

MEPSO General Director Dejan Boskovski explained to SETimes that the most important is the project connecting Macedonia’s energy system with Albania.

“This project will complete the energy integration of the countries in the East-West Corridor No. 8, which includes Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria,” Boskovski said.

MEPSO and Albania’s energy system operator, OST, concluded a Memorandum for Co-operation last April, effectively starting preparations for building the 400 KW power line.

“Currently, we are preparing a cost-effectiveness study which will allow us to apply for a loan with international creditors. The estimated value of this investment solely on Macedonian territory is 35m euros, and the goal is to have an operational power line by 2015,” Boskovski said.

“Building the new power lines and partially renewing the existing energy-carrying network will undoubtedly contribute to even greater regional energy connectivity,” Macedonia’s Energy Agency representative Vladimir Sarach told SETimes.

The agency pursues these and other projects within the Europe-wide and regional energy initiatives, which contributes to sharing knowledge about more efficient energy policies as well as greater use of renewable energy sources.

Bulgarian media recently reported that Sofia will form an “electrical energy bourse” in which Greece, Serbia and Macedonia will participate.

Bulgaria — the region’s biggest electricity producer — reportedly resurrected the idea in the belief that connecting Balkan countries will allow for easier energy trade, as well as lower electricity prices.

Sarach hedges somewhat on that point, telling SETimes “The forming of regional energy bourses is of particular importance but it will not directly lead to lowering the electricity price, because it is still unrealistically low. They can influence, however, the quality of the supplying of energy, as well as increase the available number of supply operators to choose from.”

Boskovski adds that regional energy integration overcomes the energy sector’s market liberalisation challenges.

“There is an initiative underway to create a unique regional centre for organising auctions to lease assets for energy supply. The centre will be in Podgorica and most Southeast European countries will participate,” he said

Macedonia’s energy situation this year is stable — it produced 7% more electricity than planned — but the situation varies elsewhere in the region.

Macedonia Power Plants (ELEM) spokesperson Mirche Kotevski told SETimes the overproduction is a confluence of many factors, including a concerted effort to optimally manage capacities and a quality overhaul of the thermal blocks.

“Also, a good hydrological situation,” Kotevski said.

These factors have allowed ELEM to continue the trend of reducing electricity imports for small enterprises and households.

“Macedonia imported half the quantity estimated by the yearly Energy Balance. If the trend continues, this year the country will import the least amount of energy in over a decade,” Kotevski said.





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