North Macedonia stirring towards a greener future
North Macedonia has advanced significantly in the energy transition in recent years. The country is conducting renewable energy auctions, replacing coal with solar power and gas at full speed, and is signing strategic investment deals for large wind parks and photovoltaic plants. The electricity produced by renewable energy power plants increased by 15% last year compared to 2020, while the output of coal-fired power plants decreased by 17%. The share of renewable energy in the country's total electricity production also increased from 29% to 31%.
One of the flagship green energy projects that increased the amount of renewable energy for power supply in North Macedonia is the Bogdanci Wind Park.
Bogdanci is a small town in North Macedonia close to the border with Greece. The area is known for frequent and strong winds that blow all year round. The constant wind in Bogdanci is known as 'Vardarec' and sweeps through the valley of the Vardar river. It blows at 7.2 m/s on average, a strong wind for this part of the Western Balkans. That is why the EU, through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), has funded the feasibility study, including a comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, that identified Bogdanci as the ideal location for the first wind farm in North Macedonia.
(c) WBIF, October 2022
The wind park is in a carefully selected site following an extensive analysis of the results of measurement data and wind flow simulations carried out for the most appropriate area. The construction of Phase 1 of the wind park, which was financed with loans from KfW and by the electricity generation company ELEM, was completed in March 2014. It has a capacity of 36.8 MW and an average annual production of around 112 GWh, supplying green energy to approximately 16,000 households in the south of the country.
The first phase involved the installation of 16 wind turbines and the construction of 11 km of 110 kV transmission line and a new substation, which connect the wind park with the energy network, as well as access roads. Phase 2 is ongoing and will add 14 MW to the electricity generation capacity of existing facilities, bringing the park's total capacity to 50 MW as planned. The EU co-finances Phase 2 with a €9.2 million grant through the WBIF as part of the recently adopted EU Energy Support Package for the Western Balkans.
“North Macedonia has set very ambitious climate targets ahead. I will start with the Paris Climate Agreement and the fact that the country is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 52%, as the country also has to shut down the thermal power plants powered by coal by the end of this decade, which puts the country in a very difficult situation. Everyone benefits from green energy from wind parks, whether it is for households or industry, everyone will use green energy”, said Robert Šarlamanov from the KfW Development Bank.
Bogdanci Wind Park has a considerable impact on the energy supply in the region. “The average annual production of the park will be around 112 GWh. To simplify that, it would cover the annual energy consumption of about 16,000 families, equal to the annual energy consumption of households in the neighbouring towns of Gevgelija, Bogdanci, Valandovo and Dojran”, said Goce Džambalovski from Power Plants North Macedonia.
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