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Romania’s CE Oltenia outlines restructuring and decarbonisation plan with €1.5bn of investments

Rovinari power plant.
Rovinari power plant.

CE Oltenia, one of Romania’s top electricity producers, has presented a restructuring and decarbonisation plan that includes investments of RON7bn (€1.5bn) by 2026.

The plan will see CE Oltenia gradually shifting to cleaner energy by scaling down its coal power production and gradually closing its coal mines. This will result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by around 38%. 

When it is completed, CE Oltenia will have an energy mix combining coal, natural gas and renewable energy, “which will ensure its viability, and can continue to support the local and national economy”, the company said in a statement issued on August 23 after it presented the plan to Prime Minister Ludovic Orban. 

According to the statement from CE Oltenia, the Romanian government considers the restructuring plan to be the only option for the viable long-term operation of the company. 

The document will be sent to the European Commission by the end of August. Earlier this year, CE Oltenia received aid worth RON1.2bn. In February, the EC gave the go ahead for Romania to extend state aid to CE Oltenia and flag carrier Tarom, on the condition the companies either came up with credible restructuring plans, subject to the EC’s endorsement, within six months — or be liquidated. 

Minister of Economy and Energy Virgil Popescu said at the time that returning the money within six months would be impossible. 

Instead, the company has come up with a restructuring plan it hopes will ensure its long-term survival. 

“The diversification of energy resources in order to ensure the future of the company and its employees does not mean the immediate closure of lignite mining, but the gradual reduction of these activities, which will continue after 2030. Investments in mining and coal-fired power plants will amount to about RON2bn,” said the company’s statement. 

CEO is the second-biggest electricity producer in Romania, with a share of roughly one quarter of the country’s electricity production. The company operates power plants in Craiova, Rovinari and Turceni, as well as mines in the Oltenia coal basin. It currently employs around 13,000 people, after reducing its headcount by several thousand. 

The new projects that will be put into operation by 2026 will have a total installed capacity of about 2,000 MW. 

CE Oltenia is considering building eight photovoltaic (PV) parks in Turceni, Rovinari and Isalnita with a total installed capacity of about 700 MW, rehabilitation and modernisation of the micro hydropower plant (HPP) in Turceni with an installed capacity of 10 MW, and development of new natural gas capacities with a total installed capacity of about 1,300 MW in Turceni and Isalnita. 

While coal power production will be gradually reduced in the company’s energy mix, CE Oltenia says the construction of new production capacities will lead to the creation of new jobs in the region, and some employees will be offered retraining.