Reports that the Government of Kosovo has said no to an MCC project to bring American natural gas to Kosovo have provoked strong reactions. The lack of transparency regarding this project has made the reactions completely oriented in the political sense, while they have left completely out the professionals of the field, not being able to give their assessments regarding the possible benefits of Kosovo from this project.
To better understand from the perspective of professionals, about the importance of the implementation of this project for Kosovo, KosovaPress talked to the well-known expert in the field of energy, Luan Shllaku and initially we asked him?
KosovaPress: Mr. Shllaku, it has been reported that Kosovo said no to the natural gas project, or as it is now known by the name of the American gas project. In a post on social media, from the perspective of an energy expert, you have listed some of the advantages that Kosovo has had to be part of this project. From the perspective of an expert, please tell us why this project has been important let’s say in the energy field?
Shllaku: What I wrote had a purpose: to evaluate the idea of introducing natural gas in Kosovo. But this issue, like many others, unfortunately can not remain depoliticized. What I would like to say is how I see the idea of introducing gas in Kosovo, regardless of where it comes from. These days we were introduced to the possibility of importing American gas that comes to a Greek port and then goes in the direction of Macedonia, Kosovo and further, I believe, but we were not told more, there was very little transparency in this regard. On the other hand, there has long been talk of the possibility that one day in Kosovo, gas will come from Albania. Whatever the option, we need to look at what natural gas can bring us. We are among the rare places that do not have gas infrastructure, remove the gas conductor that we have from the 70s, which extends to Skopje and Mitrovica on the other side, because once this gas line had supplied with thermal gas ” made in Kosovo ”, Kosovo metallurgy and some large industrial facilities. Gas brings to Kosovo the energy we lack today, not only electrical but also thermal energy, which means that it can be used, in addition to electricity production, as fuel for heating a large part of Kosovo settlements. It can also replace the enormous costs that industry today incurs using electricity, which is the most expensive form of its use – we first convert thermal energy into electricity and then turn that energy back into thermal energy! Thus, we lose a lot of energy.
KosovaPress: There have been rumors for years about this project, besides experts in the field like you, citizens do not have much knowledge, not to say at all about what the project is about. Please if you can give us some details about this project?
Shllaku: – Unfortunately I do not know this project well enough – I only know as much as we have been told and how much has been written about it. What we are told by the Government is that they also need to study it more, because they do not have all the answers at the moment. I do not like the fact that the Government has taken a position to first say no to the opportunity offered by the MCC project, and then will do more detailed studies on it! Usually happens the opposite: it is analyzed first then it is said yes or no! But, let’s hope MCC will have the flexibility to wait for our side to study the project a little more and then decide.
KosovaPress: What does Kosovo benefit in terms of energy, if it were part of the project?
Shllaku: The benefits, if gas (from wherever it comes from) will be brought to Kosovo can be numerous: First, it diversifies energy sources, although not with the cleanest possible fuels, but we know very well that it will not to be able to switch completely to renewable sources because we have little potential for such a replacement. But we must do our best, and immediately to generate the maximum possible from the sun, wind, etc.; Second, we would have at our disposal, an additional source of energy, gas, which we then use as needed. Gas makes it possible to be easily used only when it is convenient; Third, until we make the right investments in alternative energy, which takes decades from now, we will be able to build a transition with a small gas thermal power station that pollutes by half less than the lignite thermal power station, and a fourth, we significantly reduce electricity consumption, which in large part comes from heating during the winter. If we build 5-6 regional gas heaters, we will significantly reduce the consumption of electricity, which is like building a new thermal power station: if we save 300 MW of energy during the winter it is the same as to build a 300 MW thermal power station which would significantly endanger the quality of the environment and the health of citizens.
KosovaPress: What could be the damages in the field of energy for Kosovo?
Shllaku: Like any fossil fuel, gas also pollutes the environment, albeit half as much as lignite. Also, gas costs – we have to buy it abroad. But it could cost more if we do not have clear alternatives to the energy the country needs in the coming decades, when we will not be able to use lignite, due to restrictions imposed by the EU, and we, I am convinced, we will not harm the chance we have of becoming part of it.
KosovaPress: After the reports that Kosovo said no to this project, many voices, criticizing this decision have warned for the future of the possibility of Kosovo’s energy dependence on neighboring countries, specifically on Serbia? How do you see these warnings?
Shllaku: To be honest, I do not take these reactions seriously at all.
/ Luan Shllaku is the most famous expert in the field of environmentalism and energy. For years he continues to be an advocate for the development of alternative energy in Kosovo. He is the executive director of the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society / KFOS, the largest organization in Kosovo that promotes the values of democracy.