Q&A with the experts: Đorđije Vulikić (Montenegro)

Aug 9, 2021

After a interviews regarding the energy, transport and biodiversity with experts from Serbia, we are moving to the experts from another SeeNet members country – Montenegro. Firstly, we are talking about energy with Mr Đorđije Vulikić. Đorđije has a Bachelor degree in Economics. He is executive director of the think tank organization CLEAN (Climate and Energy Action Network) from Montenegro and a consultant in the field of climate change and sustainable energy. He had more than 10 years of relevant professional experience in creating national policies and implementing projects in areas of climate change in the state administration, international development organizations, as well as civil society.

1. The topic of decarbonization and shutdown of coal power plants is very common in the EU and the countries of the region. Is there a discussion in Montenegro about the date of decarbonisation of the economy and how Montenegro plan the energy transition? (low carbon development strategy, coal phase out, and other acts)

The discussion about the energy transition and decarbonisation of the economy in Montenegro at the present time is virtually non-existent. There were some attempts from the local NGO’s in the past to initiate this discussion with the Government authorities and other relevant stakeholders, however such initiatives are hardly what is needed and adequate. It appears that two Ministries in charge for the energy and climate policies (Ministry of Capital Investments and the Ministry of Ecology Spatial Planning and Urbanism) are dealing with these issues mostly internally. Although the public debate on such important issues for the country’s future was missing, at the occasion of joining the initiative Powering Past Coal Alliance in June 2021, the Government of Montenegro has announced the coal phaseout by 2035 at the latest. This decision had the elements of controversy since it came as a surprise to those who obviously should have been consulted prior to its official announcement, namely the national energy company EPCG and its subsidiary coal mining company Rudnik uglja Pljevja. However, this only confirms that recent change of Government did not result in change of behaviour of Government administration and in increase of its transparency. Furthermore, such decision comes without sound analysis that could clear doubts whether the announced coal phaseout date is a result of detailed analytical work or just an arbitrary decision.
The two main documents that could help shedding more light on Government’s plans to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 are the National Determined Contribution (NDC) and National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). The revised NDC has been adopted by the Government on 3rd of June 2021 and sets a target with marginally increased ambition (-35% GHG reduction by 2030) compared to the first NDC which stood at -30 %. Such target is obviously unambitious and not in line with Paris Agreement or the EU climate targets. The NECP is being developed without proper public discussion and consultations and its content is currently unavailable to interested stakeholders.

2. In the year behind us (2020), the world record was set with 260 GW of RES installed. What is the total share of RES in Montenegro and what are the projections for 2030? What is the most dominant source of RES used in Montenegro and where do you see the greatest potential for further development?

The total share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption in Montenegro is close to 33%. The sectoral shares of energy from renewable sources show that electricity is at 50%, heating and cooling at approximately 36 %, while RES share in transport is only 1% and it’s far from reaching the individual RES target for transport which stands at 10% by 2020. The country’s RES targets by 2030 and beyond should be revealed by the NECP that is currently under development. The most dominant source of RE comes from the hydro power while in the last couple of years there is a significant addition of wind power. Montenegro is planning two new hydro power plants and several wind and solar plants. The greatest RES potential is in the wind and solar sector, especially in the solar since Montenegro is the country with the highest insolation rate in the Europe. Given the significantly lower environmental impacts attributed to the wind and solar projects they should be the corner stone of the NECP or any future decarbonisation strategy for Montenegro.

3. Based on information provided by the IEA (International Energy Agency), solar energy is currently the cheapest source of energy in history. What is the situation with the use of solar in Montenegro with special reference to the solar rooftop?

The solar energy has only recently come to the fore in Montenegro, mainly due to the expressed interest from international investors. Currently there is only one large solar project planned in the south of the country, in Ulcinj municipality, which is expected to be developed in the next couple of years. But it can be expected that number of solar projects will increase manyfold in the coming period. The smaller installations such as rooftop solar are gaining momentum, especially after such projects were introduced and regulated by the Law on Energy. However, the exploitation of the potential of the roof top solar is still at an early stage in Montenegro.

4. Does the legislation Montenegro recognize energy cooperatives (local energy communities) and Prosumers? Give us examples of good practice.

Energy cooperatives, unfortunately, have not been recognized by the national legislation yet.
Prosumers are recognized by the law, however, in order to enable implementation of this concept at scale, legislation should be aligned with the most recent developments in the EU.

5. According to Eurostat data, the average household in the EU consumes about 300 kWh per month. How much does the average household spend in Montenegro? How do you rate energy efficiency in Montenegro? Is there a regulation (law and bylaws)?

The average household in Montenegro consumes slightly more than the EU household, however the energy efficiency performance of the consumers is far worse. The energy efficiency in Montenegro is not regarded as the high priority matter by the Government, as it should be. The EE target is set at the 1% of annual energy savings and even such conservative target is not being achieved. The national EE legislation is mostly harmonized with the EU acquis and the biggest challenge is the implementation and enforcement.