Energy in the Western Balkans
The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group is conducting a comprehensive study on the geopolitics of the green energy transition in the Western Balkans. The study is based on desk research, several detailed case studies and an opinion poll conducted between March and April 2023 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. This background paper presents initial findings from the research and sets up a foundation for the future development of the project.
Serbia’s Energy Dilemma: Navigating Geopolitical Tensions, Russian Ownership, and the Path to Renewable Transition
This policy brief delves into the complex web of challenges plaguing Serbia’s energy sector, examining the combination of events during the winter of 2021-2022 that triggered the current crisis. A breakdown at the Nikola Tesla Thermal Power Plant, exacerbated by underinvestment and mismanagement, collided with the global energy crisis. The Russian invasion of Ukraine further heightened concerns, revealing the vulnerabilities of Serbia’s energy supply, which relies heavily on Russian-owned entities. These events forced Serbia into unprecedented expenditures to secure energy supplies and reopened questions about its strategic orientation and energy transition. This study scrutinises the role of Russian ownership in Serbia’s energy landscape, mainly focusing on NIS Oil Company, and extends the analysis to broader energy transition dynamics and geopolitics. It sheds light on the historical context of Russian investments in oil and gas, their impact on Serbia’s energy security, and the complex interplay between Russian, Chinese, and Western interests, local politics, and environmental considerations.
Geopolitics Begins at Home: Foreign Actors' Role in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Energy Sector
The complicated administrative and legal frameworks that allow corruption and clientelism to flourish in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are obstacles to the country’s energy sector moving towards net-zero by 2050. Further, this study suggests that foreign actors are more a symptom than the cause of BiH’s slow energy transition. Their main motivation is not to exert political influence in BiH. Instead, they come to the country because of its abundance of natural resources, well-developed infrastructure, and production facilities, and to generate profits. They do not invest to take responsibility for sustainable natural resource management or energy production, but merely to secure concessions and quickly cash out before jumping to a new deal without delivering on their contractual obligations. BiH citizens in the meantime remain ill-informed and largely powerless.
Kosovo Energy Transition Between privatisation and market liberalisation
This policy brief examines the Kosovo energy sector during a critical juncture in its transition towards sustainability. The study delves into the geopolitical factors influencing this energy transformation, shedding light on the public perceptions of Kosovo's energy partners and the government's strategy for transitioning to renewable sources. Furthermore, the paper delves into the energy crisis spurred by Russian aggression in Ukraine, intensifying the demand for sustainability and transition within Kosovo. Geopolitical considerations and the substantial costs associated with establishing gas infrastructure have hindered the exploration of gas as a viable alternative energy source. Despite these challenges, the Kosovo government has affirmed its commitment to progressing towards energy transition by exploring wind and solar energy.
Green Power Politics: External Actors and Energy Transition in the Western Balkans
The final brief of BiEPAG’s Geopolitics of the Green Energy Transition project explores the EU’s role in promoting the energy transition in the Western Balkans. Despite the EU’s commitment to climate action and extensive financial assistance, the region’s progress in adopting renewable energy sources remains slow. The study, based on a comprehensive survey and three in-depth case studies of external influence in the energy sector, reveals a public desire for green transition but a lack of awareness regarding the negative impact of external actors like Russia, China, and Turkey. The analysis underscores the crucial role of local elites in mediating foreign influence and highlights disparities in public perceptions...