Prague, Czech Republic – Plans for €3.5 billion of new gas-fired power plants, pipelines, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the Western Balkans would force countries to import far more gas than they have in the past, introducing economic and energy security risks into the region’s already challenging energy transition, finds new research from Global Energy Monitor and Bankwatch.
- 2,442 megawatts (MW) of planned gas-fired capacity would dramatically deepen the region’s dependency on gas for electricity, nearly tripling the 779 MW of such capacity today;
- The region’s first two LNG import terminals in Montenegro and Albania would increase exposure to a tight, volatile LNG market with over 0.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of regasification capacity; and
- 2,715 kilometers of new gas pipelines would draw gas into the Western Balkans from Greece, Croatia, and other neighbors.
In 2021, the six countries of the Western Balkans—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia—consumed a mere 3.7 bcm of gas, or 4% of what Germany used that same year.
But the proposed expansion to the gas infrastructure network, backed by European Union and U.S. institutions, would expose the region to the volatile price swings and gas shortages experienced by much of Europe last year. Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo are not currently connected to gas networks, so new infrastructure would create entirely new gas dependence.
At the same time, renewed warnings this month from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built in order to limit planetary warming to 1.5° Celsius mean that the planned gas build-out represents billions of euros in potential stranded assets.
For a region with significant solar and wind energy potential, the plans for new gas infrastructure would also introduce fresh hurdles to EU accession efforts, as the move runs counter to provisions of the Energy Community Treaty that seek among others to align the green energy efforts of the region with that of the EU’s.
Pippa Gallop, Southeast Europe Energy advisor at Bankwatch, said “Fossil gas infrastructure built now will be a liability for the Western Balkans. Either it will increase import dependence and fossil-fuel lock-in, or it will end up as stranded assets. If the EU and its banks have learnt anything from recent supply problems, they must stop peddling fossil gas in the region.”
Robert Rozansky, Research Analyst at Global Energy Monitor, said “Countries around the world are rethinking their plans to import this volatile, dirty fuel amid the global energy crisis. If the Western Balkans forge ahead with new gas infrastructure, it will only make it harder to transition to clean, domestic, and affordable energy.”
Pippa Gallop, Southeast Europe energy advisor, CEE Bankwatch Network, [email protected]
Robert Rozansky, Research Analyst, Global Energy Monitor, [email protected]
About Global Energy Monitor
Global Energy Monitor (GEM) develops and shares information in support of the worldwide movement for clean energy. By studying the evolving international energy landscape, creating databases, reports, and interactive tools that enhance understanding, GEM seeks to build an open guide to the world’s energy system. Users of GEM’s data and reports include the International Energy Agency, United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank, and the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown. Follow us at www.globalenergymonitor.org and on Twitter @GlobalEnergyMon
About CEE Bankwatch Network
CEE Bankwatch Network is today the largest network of grassroots environmental groups in countries of central and eastern Europe and a leading force in preventing dubious public investments that harm the planet and people’s well-being in this region and beyond. Operating since 1995 in countries that have undergone significant social and economic transformation, we have the know-how to effectively work in unpredictable environments from North Africa to Central Asia. The banks and funds we watch are often obscure but always important entities that function outside the realm of public scrutiny. Together with local communities and other NGOs we work to expose their influence and provide a counterbalance to their unchecked power. Follow us at www.bankwatch.org and on Twitter @ceebankwatch