Investments in energy efficiency in Kosovo
Electricity is a basic right that must be guaranteed and accessible to all. By ensuring the necessary energy, we fulfill a large number of basic rights such as the right to a sufficient standard of living, which corresponds to health and essential requirements including food, clothing, housing, medical care, and necessary social services.
The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals published in the 2015 Action Plan to be achieved by 2030, have as a main goal the provision of affordable and clean energy (SDG no. 7). These objectives have transformative development potential as they are based on human rights, and through this objective, access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy is specifically sought for all.
However, energy efficiency is a broad field and a challenging objective to achieve, which implies reducing energy consumption in a specific territory. From the legal basis, the technical state of the network to the behavior of consumers, efficiency is the result of many factors. It includes all actions and activities that result in reducing the amount of energy needed to provide a service (heating, lighting, etc.) or enable an activity. (https://bit.ly/3E7LbW7)
Kosovo remains highly dependent on coal, which besides being a dominant source of greenhouse gases, poses serious risks to health and the environment. Therefore, environmental problems caused by non-efficient energy such as air pollution in Kosovo remain a concern, and to further reduce the country's dependence on coal and greenhouse gas emissions, much work needs to be done towards reducing energy consumption, especially in building efficiency.
The majority of energy in Kosovo is spent on residential needs. Buildings in Kosovo account for 40% of total energy demand, and on the other hand, the construction sector pays little or no attention to energy efficiency. Old and new constructions are not efficient, and a large majority of homes in Kosovo use electricity for heating, which makes energy efficiency at a very low level. The authorities in Kosovo have started planning and developing public policies regarding efficiency, but not so much out of fundamental need for efficiency as they are responding more to demands from the European Union.
Regarding legislation and strategies, Kosovo has adopted the standards and regulations of the EU, where the Kosovo Agency for Energy Efficiency, the Kosovo Energy Efficiency Fund were established and the government and some municipalities have adopted or are in the process of adapting Energy Efficiency Action Plans, as well as strategic documents that have addressed energy consumption in buildings, such as: the Energy Strategy of the Republic of Kosovo (2017-2026), the Heating Strategy (2011-2018), the Law on Energy Performance of Buildings (2016), the Law on Energy Efficiency (2018), and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP 2010-2018).
According to the European Commission's report for 2022, Kosovo has achieved a level of readiness in the energy sector with limited progress, particularly by increasing its share of renewable energy and its investments in energy efficiency in public buildings. (https://bit.ly/411fQxX)
The end of 2021 marked the inauguration of a biomass heating plant in the city of Gjakova. This modern plant, built by the EU, became the first biomass heating plant in the region and successfully produces heat from clean energy sources, reducing emissions by 90%.
According to data from the Kosovo Agency for Energy Efficiency (KAEE), municipalities invested around 5.6 million euros through various projects last year, compared to significantly lower investments in 2021 of around 740 thousand euros (in 6 municipalities). These investments were mainly made for the implementation of EE measures in buildings and public lighting, in administrative buildings, subsidizing energy efficiency for citizens, etc. The latter has also been greatly assisted by the central level, foundations, banks and various businesses.
The European Commission's report emphasizes that Kosovo needs to significantly increase its ambitions and administrative capacities to properly implement EU standards for transport, energy, and the environment. Strategies, action plans, and legislation in these sectors need to be more consistent and in line with the principles and objectives of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans and the Economic and Investment Plan.
According to this report, it is also recommended that Kosovo continues to distribute the energy efficiency fund, focusing on residential buildings and small and medium-sized enterprises. It also states that the law on renewable energy sources should be approved and a competitive tendering process for renewable energy projects should be introduced in accordance with state aid legislation, and the signing of direct agreement with the service provider for the use of the national electronic register for the issuance, cancellation, and trading of guarantees of origin.
At the same time, in addition to the importance of improvements and investments that need to be made by competent authorities, our behavior remains essential to remain energy-efficient.