Germany invests EUR 1.5 billion in green energy in the Western Balkans – All countries should urgently work on changes

How necessary a fair energy transition is in the Western Balkans can be illustrated by one example from the official data of Elektroprivreda BiH, which says that almost two thirds of the energy that Elektroprivreda BiH delivered to customers in 2023 was produced in thermal power plants.

The share of hydropower plants in energy production was 31.99%, wind power plants 1.96%, other sources 1.57%, and thermal power plants a significant 64.48%. The current so-called Renewable index (the index of the share of energy from renewable sources), is in the range of 20-25% (for the period 2017-2022), which is not favorable and significantly affects the level of specific CO2 emissions.

These indicators, which are similar in all the countries of the Western Balkans, show that all countries should urgently work on changes that will lead to improving the economy, preserving the climate and joining the European Union’s goals of a climate-neutral continent.

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany is determined to provide support and support changes in the energy sector of the Western Balkans, i.e. the six countries covered by the Berlin Process, and this was confirmed by the German Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, dr. Thomas Fitschen, at the recently held “Energy Summit 2024” in Neum, who stated that “Germany is committed to supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries of the region in reaching climate goals and enabling the transition from fossil fuels. For this purpose, the Government of Germany launched, as we call it, the Regional Climate Partnership of Germany and the six countries of the Western Balkans.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced this partnership at last year’s Summit of the Berlin Process in Tirana, and it offers significant funds – up to 1.5 billion euros in total by 2030. I am convinced that this type of cooperation between Germany and BiH will bring enormous benefits to the economy and population of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Up to EUR 500 million in the short and medium term is aimed at stabilizing the energy sector, and one billion EUR is intended for long-term investments in green energy infrastructure until 2030. For these investments, KfW Development Bank will work closely with international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the EBRD and the French Development Agency (ADF).

While Germany maintains partnership relations with various countries around the world, this exceptional regional partnership climate cooperation, aimed at deepening cooperation with the Western Balkans in the field of energy and climate, stands out because of its shared vision of the future. On behalf of the Federal Government of Germany, GIZ also implements projects in which support the accelerated implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.

The projects aim to initiate the green transformation of the region through the effective implementation of the Action Plan of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (ZAZB) 2021-2030 at the regional level. With its approval, the region undertook the obligation to comply with the European Green Plan’s aspiration that Europe be the first climate-neutral continent and that in 2050 there would be no net emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, with its ambitious climate goals, is key to protecting and improving living standards, the environment and the prosperity of the region and Europe as a whole. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we must all take responsibility and move towards a just transition, because any delay in its implementation can directly affect the economy and the health of citizens, said the representatives of the informal parliamentary group “Green Club” in BiH at the Energy Summit in I don’t know.

They also emphasized that all levels of government in BiH have committed to contribute to the implementation of the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, as well as the Green Agenda and the Sofia Declaration.

Through its projects and activities in this area, the German government emphasizes the importance of cooperation with the Western Balkans. Investing in climate-friendly infrastructure would make domestic companies sustainable and enable long-term economic growth and job creation. Addressing the requirements of energy sustainability for the countries of the Western Balkans is also of vital importance for access to the EU markets.

– When we think about green energy, we usually think of wind farms and solar roofs. Few people would ever consider transmission lines, control centers or transformer stations relevant.

On behalf of the German government and in cooperation with our project partners from the energy sector in the Western Balkans, we want to change that and make the power grids recognized as crucial for the uptake of renewable energy during the energy transition – says Nicolas Heger, project manager of GIZ.

Among other things, clean energy is a requirement for German companies that want to start production in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was highlighted at the recent state Automotive Summit in Sarajevo, organized by the German Chamber of Commerce and where, among other things, the establishment of partnerships with global manufacturers and opportunities for the automotive industry in BiH and the region were discussed.

The fact that the Federal Republic of Germany is one of the key trade partners for Bosnia and Herzegovina with a volume of foreign trade that amounts to over 4 billion KM also shows that there are many opportunities.

– On behalf of the German Government, GIZ is successfully implementing the energy transition at the local level. Innovative approaches and civic initiatives, such as energy communities, are key. Energy communities, already established in countries such as Germany and Great Britain, offer good practices that can be adapted for use in Bosnia and Herzegovina. By actively involving local authorities, the private sector and citizens, energy community projects can produce green energy locally, stimulate the local economy and improve the energy independence of communities – says Minela Isaković, energy expert at GIZ.

The regional climate partnership is also based on Germany’s past successes in cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In recent years, Germany has financially supported the construction or renovation of hydro and wind power plants with a total capacity of 850 MW, including the first wind farm in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By rehabilitating the hydroelectric power plants in Prozor/Rama, Trebinje and Čapljina, the expected lifetime of the hydrogeneration capacity was extended by at least 30 years. In total, German financial cooperation enabled or protected the production of around 2 TWh of electricity per year and reduced the emission of 900,000 tons of CO2 per year.

In addition, GIZ and German technical cooperation supported more than 30 legislative initiatives at all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, introducing various regulations that together form the country’s legal framework for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Among other things, an energy saving calculator was developed, which is used by environmental protection funds in both entities.

– Recognizing the untapped potential for energy efficiency in apartment buildings, we are committed to empowering apartment owners to invest in renovations that not only save energy but also reduce costs. Therefore, on behalf of the German Government, we support apartment owners’ associations in preparing for such renovations as well as equipping cities and municipalities with instruments and capacities important for these processes. This support will enable communities to take a leading role in the energy transition – says Kirstin Bretthauer, project manager at GIZ in BiH.

The energy sector stands out as one of the most important areas of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, but also with the EU. Its importance was emphasized through the Berlin Process, which this year marks its 10th anniversary and whose Summit will be held in Berlin on October 14, which should emphasize the commitment of the German government to support the economic development of the six countries of the Western Balkans and their approach to the European Union.