Macedonia unveils first large-scale solar project

13 September, Week 36, Issue 927

Macedonia has announced plans to build its first industrial-scale solar park.

In a statement last week, state electrical company ELEM reported issuing a general procurement notice (GPN) for the project. The firm said it would tender construction work in January next year.

The 10-MW plant is slated to cost 10 million euros (US$11.5 million) to build. ELEM expects a share of the funding to be covered with a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

ELEM noted that the station would help diversify its generation mix while providing “clean energy in a country and a region with serious capacity shortages and high levels of carbon intensity.”

Macedonia sources around half of its electricity from a 700-MW coal-fired thermal power plant (TPP) in Bitola. Symbolically, the new solar park will be positioned at the site of a depleted coal deposit in Oslomej, in the west of the country. The pit previously supplied coal to a nearby 125-MW TPP, which was taken offline in 2016. ELEM took a decision in June to close the TPP permanently.

Macedonia aims to cover 28% of its gross final energy consumption with renewables by 2020, up from 18.2% in 2016. The Balkan state draws much of its clean energy from hydroelectric sources, with 664 MW of capacity installed at the end of last year. In contrast, it only has 18 MW of solar capacity, in the form of small-scale photovoltaic (PV) installations. The country also operates 37 MW of wind capacity.

Earlier this summer, Macedonia also launched its first solar panel factory. The plant, developed by local investor Pikcell Group and US-based specialist Solar ET, can turn out up to 20 MW of PV panels per year. It is expected to deliver these panels to projects both abroad and domestically. The only other solar manufacturing centre in the Balkans is a 50-MW-per-year plant opened in Kosovo in 2016.

Joseph Murphy

Edited by

Joseph Murphy

Editor

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