Prospects for renewable energy in South-East Europe: Creating space to grow

Last week I attended the renewable energy workshop with South-East Europe countries hosted in Bucharest and initiated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The region holds important renewables potential, which has so far suffered from slow project development outside of traditional hydropower resources. IRENA is currently exploring ways to be more engaged in the region and tackle barriers to renewables deployment (Disclosure: I am involved as a consultant in this work).

South-East Europe’s renewable energy markets have been marked by difficulties to design attractive regulatory frameworks and streamline administrative practices for developers. To be fair, outside of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, the power markets and relatively small in size and demand pattern, along with cheap fossil fuels based power do not justify large scale renewable power developments.

However, the region has its sweet spots for renewable energy project developers, especially in small to medium size projects. The following are reasons why you should care about the opportunities in South-East Europe:

  1. Number of renewable energy technologies is already cost-effective in the region, including wind, solar PV and bioenergy. More on that will come from IRENA in the coming months (Stay tuned). Recent renewable energy project pipeline shows possible inroads into the market. You can check out the following projects as examples: :
    1. Biogas based plants in Croatia inaugurated in October 2016 with capacity of 2.4 MW and 1.2 MW respectively,
    2. Six new biomass CHP plants in Serbia with installed capacity of 6.32 MW,
    3. Zadar VI Extension onshore wind farm in Croatia under construction, with capacity of 44 MW,
    4. Hrgud onshore wind farm in Bosnia and Herzegovina in planning stage with capacity of 48 MW,
    5. Krnovo onshore wind farm with 72 MW in Montenegro under construction,
    6. Solar PV installation with 1 MW of installed capacity in Bosnia and Herzegovina inaugurated in October 2016.
  1. South-East Europe, whether countries that are already Members of the EU (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia) or those that are members of the Energy Community implement EU regulation for renewable energy. The European Commission is coming with a new package of EU rules, which will change the design of renewable energy support schemes to market based mechanisms such as feed-in-premiums and public tenders. In the future, any support to renewable energy (except for small scale, decentralized projects) will need to be based on competitive power markets. Market-based support schemes will play in favor of cheaper renewable energy technologies and could help to allocate investment more efficiently in South-East Europe.  The European Commission announced its intention to support citizen-focused production of renewable energy, which could play in favor of the South East Europe renewable energy markets with huge potential for small medium sized installations.
  1. Development banks and donors facilities offer cheaper access to capital for renewable energy. They are looking for viable projects to support. EBRD and KfW continue to target region’s active hydropower developments but both have already financed several wind deals across the region, including
    1. Krnovo in Montenegro,
    2. Several wind farms in Romania and
    3. Suvorovo in Bulgaria.

KfW funded also a regional wind atlas with the purpose to push region’s potential, which can be accessed here.

Green for Growth Fund initiated by the EU with the support of EIB, KfW and IFC, works with financial institutions in the region in developing energy efficiency and renewable energy lending products and setting up their overall lending and marketing strategy. So far it has put less than 5% of its funding (150 Million EUR committed so far) to renewable energy, but is willing to offer more.

Resources on renewable energy in the South-East Europe:

  • UNECE REN21 Renewable Energy Status Report, which was authored by the team from Revelle Group and me as a lead author. The report can be accessed here.
  • IRENA’s workshop on cost-effective renewable energy in South-East Europe with several interesting presentations is available here.
  • The Energy Community published an implementation report on renewable energy for it member countries in 2015 and is available here.
  • The Energy Community launched Renewable Energy Coordination Group for the region. Its resources can be accessed here.
  • On financing of renewable energy projects, check our article by Esa Rugova.
  • My Revelle colleague, Elisa Asmelash, put together a useful overview of the region’s renewable energy challenges, which was published by Revolve Magazine.
  • And for regular updates on what happening with green energy in the region, check out Balkan Green Energy News.


By Katarina Uherova Hasbani, Board Member, ARE / Business Development, Revelle Group

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