North Macedonia plans to buy 3 million tons of lignite from Kosovo to feed its coal-fired plants as a lack of domestic production and soaring energy prices in Europe leave it facing an energy crisis, the country’s economy minister said on Friday.
“Today we have stated negotiations to import coal from the Republic of Kosovo,” North Macedonia’s economy minister Kreshnik Bekteshi wrote on Facebook after meeting officials from Kosovo’s government and power utility KEK.
Contacted by Reuters, Kosovo officials did not give any further details on the potential deal.
In an interview on Thursday with Skopje-based television Alsat, Bekteshi said the government plans to buy 3 million tons of lignite from Kosovo in the next three years.
The government in Skopje declared a state of energy crisis on November 9 as it faced a lack of domestic electricity production, dry seasons which failed to feed its hydro plants and price hikes across Europe.
The state of emergency has been extended until June next year, while authorities are increasing household electricity prices by 10 percent from next month.
According to government data, North Macedonia’s neighbor Kosovo, has the world’s fifth largest lignite reserves of 12-14 billion tons.
North Macedonia produces more than 80% of its electricity in coal-fired power plants, but it needs to reduce this as it plans to move towards membership of the European Union. It imports one-third of its electricity needs.
Lignite, often referred as brown coal, has the lowest energy content and releases a lot of toxic pollution when burned. [Reuters]