Q&A with the experts – Majda Ibrakovic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Nov 22, 2021

In the last few months we had a interviews with experts, activists and NGO representers from Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and *Kosovo and now we are moving to Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have a pleasure to present Majda Ibrakovic. Majda is an activist for nature and people, with a special focus on the dirty energy sources. She is currently working at the Center for the Environment in Banja Luka as a coordinator of the Energy and Climate Change Program, within led by the campaign “Stop dirty energy, the future is renewable”.

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

Decarbonisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has just started to be a point of discussion, however, unfortunately still not within the circles of decision makers. The Sofia Declaration signed in 2020 presents a stepping stone where low-ambition countries such as BiH were imposed with a concrete phase-out year – 2050. It is still difficult to imagine that this process will move painlessly for some, however, it is extremely important to be aware of the necessity of coal phase-out in the next two decades while building alternatives in parallel to that. Our Energy strategy framework until 2035 still doesn’t have a ‘green’ decarbonisation scenario, but only energy scenarios that contain new coal. The first step then is to actually revise this document and align all strategic documents such as NDC, NECP and finally adopt concrete legislation such as the Climate law which should accelerate this transition.

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 BiH and what are the projections for 2030? What is the most dominant source of RES used in BiH and where do you see the greatest potential for further development?

Currently there is only 2372 MW of RES installed in our country Bosnia and Herzegovina has registered a 37,58% share of renewables in 2019. However, this was still not enough to reach the trajectory of 39,2% in 2019, let alone its 40% target for 2020, according to the Annual report of the Energy community Secretariat for 2020. The current installed capacities are actually miserably low and present les then 2% of our technical potentials in renewables. There is still so much space for wind and solar plants, of course , with respect to environmental, social, economic and other conditions for their installation in particular areas. Currently the most dominant source of RES is hydro (about 45% for big and about 3% small HPPs) and we see now that there is a huge environmental pressure which unfortunately resulted in the destruction of our wild, free-flowing rivers.

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 BiH with special reference to the solar rooftop.

The price for technology for solar fell significantly, almost 90% in the past decade! Still, citizens need to finance the initial investment themselves without any incentive from the government. This is blocking the majority of people who still think that PV installation is for the wealthy ones, not seeing all the benefits of such investments. However, things are starting to change and people recognize that the prices are much lower and benefits for self-consumption are numerous. Prices of solar equipment currently range from 700 KM per kW to 3,000 KM per kW of installed power, depending on the type, power and quantity of solar equipment. It is estimated that in the coming period and that payback period will decrease due to increasing availability, competitiveness and generally lower prices of technologies on the market. In addition, the service life of the equipment is being extended more and more, so it is more environmentally and economically acceptable.

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

Unfortunately, current legislation does not recognize them at all. The existing Law on RES in both entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina identifies and favors only commercial investors in RES – companies that use RES for their own purpose or producers of RES. Cooperatives here have a negative connotation in general public, due to bad management of agricultural cooperatives in the past. Energy cooperatives are not recognized and defined by law, and prosumers as well – therefore currently they cannot realise any rights to produce and consume their own renewable energy within the grid. The good thing is that this will change next year with the new Law on RES (in Republika Srpska entity and hopefully in the Federation of BiH as well) which will enable citizens’ energy projects and recognize the need to push and strongly incentify community energy.

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 BiH? How do you rate energy efficiency in BiH? Is there a regulation (law and bylaws)?

One of the main characteristics of power system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that the same amount of energy achieves four times less than the gross national product then in the average EU countries, and double air pollution. Energy use in households and public sector is extremely inefficient. Low price of energy refused foreign investors in renewable energy sources. An average household in BiH consumes about 350 kWh per month. Bosnia and Herzegovina is at the crossroads and must to decide where to go: continue the previous practice and ensure poverty to future generations or to change policies of energy management, and promote usage of RES and investments in energy sector.