Crisis in Northern Macedonia in electricity supply

In the middle of the energy crisis, northern Macedonia imports electricity and withdraws it from the European network because the largest domestic producer, REK “Bitola”, turned off the last of the three blocks due to a defect.

On November 8th, the government declared a 30-day power crisis, based on an assessment that there is a risk of electricity shortages, due to limited Macedonian production capacity and increased electricity prices in foreign markets.

“The only measure resulting from the decision to declare an energy crisis is injecting money into state-owned energy companies in order to stabilize the situation on the electricity market and ensure a stable supply,” said Macedonian Economy Minister Kresnik Bektesi.

He stated that the state will intervene with budget funds in order to increase the liquidity of the Power Plant of Northern Macedonia (ESM) and the Macedonian Electricity Transmission System Operator (MEPSO) and due to the import of electricity in case of possible accidents in power plants.

The company ESM said that the needs of the country for electricity after the shutdown of the thermal power plant in Bitola “are met from other capacities and the purchased electricity, as well as from the reserves for these short outages”.

Due to the significantly reduced production of electricity, that company bought electricity for 5.5 million euros, starting the import which should last until November 20, while MEPSO started pulling electricity from the European energy network again after the accident of REK “Bitola”.

Due to the withdrawal of electricity from the European network in the previous two weeks, MEPSO has already received five warnings and will have to pay 15 million euros, as well as penalties, because it pulled electricity even when there were no breakdowns in the Macedonian energy system.

According to Bektesi, the energy crisis has largely spilled over from world markets to northern Macedonia, which imports much of its electricity.

“Given that the price of electricity has risen enormously on world stock exchanges, we are working on fully activating domestic capacities. We are working to find the best solution to get out of this energy crisis,” Bekteši said, emphasizing that prices for citizens will not be increased until the end. years.

The Government of Northern Macedonia told Beta that the new law fully implements the third package of EU directives related to the internal energy market and fully liberalizes the market.

This means that large consumers procure electricity on the market themselves, while the state provides cheaper electricity from Macedonian production for households and small consumers, through a universal supplier.

“The price for this year is 36 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) and it is currently five to six times lower than on the stock exchanges in the region and in Europe,” the government said.

They pointed out that due to the jump in prices on the stock exchanges, primarily on HUPX in Hungary, which is in a way the reference stock exchange for Northern Macedonia, there were more serious problems in supplying institutions and state and private companies that procure electricity on the free market.

“Certain suppliers have started canceling existing contracts with consumers or offering them significantly higher prices for the electricity they need to supply them. The Energy Regulatory Commission reacted immediately and initiated procedures to revoke the licenses of those suppliers, in order to prevent serious market disturbances. electricity, “the government said.

It was pointed out that the Government cannot influence the events on the world stock exchanges, but it is making efforts to provide additional quantities of electricity by increasing the production in ESM, which will amortize the price shock to the companies.

In the last 15 years in Northern Macedonia, about 70 percent of electricity is provided from domestic power plants, primarily from ESM, and about 30 percent of needs are provided from imports.

According to the information from the Government, in the last ten years, the production in thermal power plants has decreased, primarily TEC “Oslomej”, which does not work at full capacity because there is no available lignite available at the deposits near it, and in the last year or two it works thanks to imports from Kosovo.

The situation is similar in REK “Bitolj”, where in recent years the quantities of lignite used for electricity production have been reduced, which automatically reduces the efficiency of the largest Macedonian thermal power plant, and it should be borne in mind that it has been operating for more than 40 years.

The quantities of lignite in the REK “Bitolj” mine are sufficient, as it is added, for the thermal power plant to work with two units throughout the winter, while for the third effort is made to provide the necessary quantities of lignite from the region, in order to increase domestic production and “reduce negative effects caused by distortion of electricity prices on world stock exchanges “.

“In cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce of Northern Macedonia, the possibility of including the thermal power plant TEC Negodino, which works on fuel oil and is kept as a cold reserve, is being analyzed,” they said in the Government.

Asked whether the use of nuclear energy is being reconsidered, the Government of Northern Macedonia said that they are not currently considering the construction of nuclear power plants “, but that in case there are initiatives of neighboring countries for regional projects, they will” consider ” that they can be accepted, if they are in the interest of the citizens of Northern Macedonia and ensuring their energy security.

The government points out that Northern Macedonia is “seriously committed to the realization of the green scenario according to which the production of electricity from coal is not foreseen after 2035.”

“This means that electricity balances will be mostly provided from renewable energy sources, primarily photovoltaic power plants, wind farms and large hydropower plants. Of course, the stability of the system should be provided by gas-fired power plants, whose construction is planned in Skopje and Bitola, for what feasibility studies are currently being done, “the government said.

The strategy of energy until 2040, which envisages the transition to the production of electricity from renewable sources, was adopted by the Government of Northern Macedonia at the end of 2019.

By Editor

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