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Kosovo becomes first Western Balkans economy to use solar energy for district heating

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo

  • Ground-breaking integration of solar power into district heating in Kosovo
  • EU, Germany and EBRD finance €80 million project
  • Financing package signed today in Pristina

Kosovo will become the first economy in the Western Balkans region to use solar power to heat homes.

The Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers signed a financing agreement on the Solar4Kosovo district heating project on behalf of Kosovo in Pristina today.

The project is worth more than €80 million and includes two grants from Germany’s KfW and the European Union (EU) worth €31.6 and €21.5 million, respectively. The rest of the project is being financed by a loan from the EBRD in the amount of €23.2 million. 

The district heating project envisages the construction of a solar power plant that uses the sun's energy for central heating. It will also increase heating capacity by expending the network by 50 MW. The innovative technology enables the collection of solar energy during the summer, its storage and use for central heating during the winter.

“This new capacity will ensure access to the central heating system for about 38,000 citizens, which will replace individual heating systems and, at the same time, address the chronic problem of air pollution in Pristina," said Minister of Finance, Labour and Transfers Hekuran Murati.  

“Kosovo’s transition to green energy is our common goal,” said EU Ambassador to Kosovo Tomas Szunyog. “The solar heating plant is the latest EU investment in that direction, but it is far from being the only one. The EU will support the energy transition and sustainable development of Kosovo through another 100-megawatt solar electricity project with the Kosovo Energy Cooperation.”

The EU’s contribution to solar heating and electricity projects in Kosovo will total almost €56 million.

"Germany has supported Kosovo in its transition from coal to sustainable energy and decarbonisation in accordance with the objectives of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans,” said Germany’s Deputy Ambassador to Kosovo Matthias Conrad. “Solar4Kosovo is based on this common heritage of our cooperation with Kosovan institutions, the EU and other donors, so we are proud that, together, we have made such a pioneering project possible.”

“Thanks to this project, many families in Pristina will stop burning coal and wood to heat their homes, which will, in itself, significantly increase their air quality and reduce CO2 emissions,” said Charlotte Ruhe, EBRD Managing Director for Central and South-Eastern Europe. “But this new heat will be “green” as well. I am very proud to be here today and to sign this project with our partners. Yet another great investment in Pristina under the EBRD’s Green Cities Framework.”

On behalf of the government of Kosovo, Minister Murati thanked the German government, the EU and the EBRD for supporting the project. The project is the largest solar energy investment in the district heating sector in the region and one of the largest solar power plants in Europe. As such, the project marks an historic moment on Kosovo's path towards a decarbonised energy system in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

This investment is the first project of several envisaged by the Renewable District Energy in the Western Balkans (ReDEWeB) technical assistance programme, which promotes the use of renewable energy sources in district heating and cooling systems. The programme is financed by the Austrian government and administered by the EBRD.

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