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North Macedonia’s first private wind park gets €51M funding from Erste Group

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North Macedonia’s first private wind farm project, called Bogoslovec, will receive funding worth €51M, financed by the Austrian bank Erste Group. The total cost of the project is €61M, of which €10M will be provided by the Austrian development bank OeEB. 

The wind farm with an aggregate capacity of 36 MW is projected to be completed by 2023. It will be situated in the village of Bogoslovec, about 80 kilometers southeast of the capital Skopje. Sixty-five percent of the shares in the project are held by local company BNB Kompani, which operates five small hydropower plants and has developed the project up to the permitting stage. 

“We will produce clean energy for more than 20,000 households in our country while exercising demanding ecological and social practices,” Blashko Lazarevski, CEO of Thor Impex, the project company developing the Bogoslovec wind farm, said.

North Macedonia aims to increase its national renewables capacity to above 50% by 2024, which means an additional 400 MW and 160 MW of solar and wind power.

According to the annual report of the Electricity Regulatory Commission, by the end of 2020, the installed capacity for electricity production from renewable energy sources was 37% of the total capacity.

“If all of the bigger projects that are in the pipeline right now are finished before 2024, in theory, the country could reach 50% of the installed capacity to be from RES. However, according to the Renewable Energy Directive, the obligation of the country is to reach a certain percentage of gross energy consumption from RES, not just installed capacity,” Davor Pehcevski, energy policy officer at Eco-sense, North Macedonia-based consulting organization, tells The Recursive.

“This is why all these investments have to be well thought, properly sited, and provide the highest possible returns in final energy consumption,” he added.

Erste Group’s role in the project confirms the approach and contributes to developing the long-term lending capacity that private sector banks, active in North Macedonia, have for renewables in general, the bank said in a statement. 

“The Bogoslovec wind park marks another important contribution to the transition to greener energy in the West Balkans. We will continue supporting that transition across our core markets,” Ingo Bleier, Chief Corporates & Markets Officer at Erste Group said.

So far, North Macedonia has solid experience with wind energy through the Bogdanci wind farm. However, it also needs to be careful about the other obligations it has for nature protection and specifically for the EU’s Birds Directive, Pehcevski added.

“We have to make sure that projects like these are done with proper monitoring prior to permitting and are not damaging our progress in the nature protection sector,” he concluded. 

 

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Bojan Stojkovski is a journalist based in Skopje, North Macedonia. He has been covering foreign affairs and technology in the Balkans region for over a decade.