It cannot be said that the energy crisis, which affected the whole world last year, bypassed Montenegro, but we certainly remained protected to a significant extent. While a number of countries in the region and beyond reached out to increase the price of electricity, electricity prices in Montenegro, as repeated several times by the Electric Industry (EPCG), will not change. They say there are no restrictions in the plan.
The energy crisis also pointed to another fact – despite the protest of environmentalists, coal will not be forgotten so quickly, nor thrown out of use. This is how we witnessed that numerous European countries turned on the boilers in their thermal power plants this year. When it comes to Montenegro, the thing is clear – we still can’t do without. This is indicated by the very bad hydrology in the second and third quarters of 2022, when the Thermal Power Plant bore the brunt of the electricity production.
As Elektroprivreda said, Pljevlja Thermal Power Plant, whose ecological reconstruction is underway, annually produces electricity worth one billion euros, i.e. 70% of the total daily production in Montenegro. The public is increasingly mentioning the construction of the second block, with indications that, if it existed, at least EUR 500 million would now flow into the state budget.
What we could also hear from Elektroprivreda, are plans for the construction of new energy facilities and multimillion-dollar investments in renewable energy sources. Thus, the construction of MHP Otilovići, HPP Gvozd, HPP Kruševo, solar power plants Velje Brdo and Briska gora, and floating solar power plants on Lake Slano near Nikšić was announced. There is also the Solari 500+ and 3000+ project, the implementation of which has already begun, and at the end of the year a tender was announced for the new phase of the Solari 5000+ project.
Apart from the plans of the state electric power company, more and more private investors are showing interest in the construction of energy facilities that will produce electricity from renewable sources.
It was these projects that attracted the most attention of our readers, and we start the list of investments in the field of energy that marked the year behind us with the construction of solar power plants.
The first In the series is an investment by the company M Energy, which plans to develop solar power plants on the territory of Cetinje and Nikšić, namely in the towns of Ubli in Cetinje, and Bogetići and Broćanac in Nikšić. For these projects, the Government has issued urban planning and technical conditions. The total area of the sites is 13,000,000 m2, and the maximum possible capacity of future power plants is approximately 385 MW.
Sunrise Europe from Kotor is also interested in building a solar power plant. This investor plans to build buildings in Šavnik, and the maximum possible capacity of the future solar power plant is approximately 220 MW.
The construction of another solar power plant in Cetinje, in the town of Prediš, is planned, and urban planning technical conditions have been issued at the request of the company Renewable Energy Sources from Podgorica. The total area of the site where the construction of the energy facility is planned is approximately 440 ha. According to the previously conducted analysis, it was determined that the potential amount of produced energy is 306.20 GWh per year, while the maximum possible capacity of the future solar power plant with a total installed power of 225 MW.
The Investment that was also discussed in the previous period is the construction of the Gvozd Power Plant. The story about this wind park is not new, and as Elektroprivreda, which is implementing the investment, said in October, the main reason for the project’s delay is the coronavirus pandemic. As they stated then, it is realistic to expect the facility to be online in 2024. At the extraordinary session of the Shareholders’ Assembly, which was held at the end of last year, the company adopted a decision on borrowing in the amount of EUR 82 million for the implementation of the project. The loan agreement will be signed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Another wind power plant will be built in Pljevlja, and at the end of the year the Government issued the urban planning technical conditions for this project as well.
– UT conditions were issued at the request of a natural person for a location within the cadastral municipalities of Bobovo and Kruševo, on the territory of the municipality of Pljevlja with a total area of 1,671,700 m². According to the applicant’s analysis, it was determined that the potential amount of electricity produced, with 20 turbines of the wind park with a total power of 120 MW, amounts to 393.80 GWh – said the Government.
Elektroprivreda Crne Gore is planning another project – the construction of HPP Kruševo. Namely, in July, the company announced a tender for the development of a study on the use of the hydropower potential of the Piva River downstream of the already existing hydroelectric power plant, with the development of a software platform to support the selection of the optimal variant. The purpose of the study is to examine the possibility of constructing HPP Kruševo.
The contract for the preparation of the study was signed in November, and the work was awarded to a consortium consisting of the Institute for Water Management Jaroslav Černi and Gruner Balkans from Serbia, and Gruner Stucky SA from Switzerland.
During the past year, we could often hear that Montenegro must be part of the Adriatic-Ionian pipeline, and the value of this regional project is EUR 600 million. The construction will be led by a project company based in Split, and its shareholders will be from the four countries through which the gas pipeline passes, or use it. As announced at the end of the year, the Montenegrin company Montenegro Bonus, together with three other companies from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Albania, will be one of the founders of the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline Company, which will perform tasks related to the preparation of the construction of the gas pipeline that will pass through this country.
There was also talk about natural gas research in Montenegro. As we could hear from the hydrologist prof. Dr. Mihailo Burić, hydrogeological engineer, our main sources of energy in the future should be hydropower and natural gas energy.
– We also have significant reserves of natural gas. Data from a large number of prospectuses, through these indicators alone, indicate that we have over two billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. However, something strange is happening, because we do not have real insight into the results of the research, primarily due to the absence of our competent staff – he said.
He said that the Montenegrin oil company should be formed, with the right of exploration and exploitation. Because, as he claims, “if this is not done, billions will remain underground”.
However, despite claims of reserves in Montenegro, the companies Eni and Novatek have given up oil and gas exploration in Montenegro.
Montenegro could also get the first LNG terminal, and the Port of Bar signed a memorandum of understanding with LNG Alliance Pte Ltd in June. As it was announced at the time, this company is interested in investing in the development of terminals for receiving gas and liquefied natural gas, as well as an electrification center with a minimum power of 100mw. At that time, it was said that the scope of this company’s investment was 200 million USD, which it would bear in its entirety, making it one of the most significant greenfield investments in Montenegro.
The LNG Alliance Is expected to make a decision on the construction of the LNG terminal in the first quarter of this year. The company announced that they reckon that the LNG terminal they would build in Bar could supply gas not only to Montenegro, but also to the surrounding countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania and Serbia, because currently on the coast of the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, in in the length of almost a thousand kilometers from the Albanian-Greek border in the south to the LNG terminal on the Krk estuary in Croatia in the north, there is no other terminal for gas and the import of this energy source via ship transport.
Another old investment is on the list. It is HPP Komarnica, and the concession for the construction of the facility, whose value is estimated at around EUR 246.53 million, was awarded to EPCG. The government accepted the 30-year concession contract in June last year, and the implementation of the project is planned in three phases.
The construction of a hydroelectric power plant with a total installed capacity of 172 MW and a total planned annual production of 213 GWh is planned. At that time, the Government emphasized that the final decision on the construction will be made only after the Elaboration on the environmental impact, as well as that the public interest will be protected by the prohibition of contracting any model that threatens 100% ownership of the future hydroelectric power plant.
During the implementation of the Solari 500+ and 3000+ project, Elektroprivreda announced that the next phase – Solari 5000+ (70 MW) – is already in preparation. The tender for citizens and businessmen was announced at the end of December, and the total value of the project is EUR 70 million.
In addition to individual buildings, this project plans to install the system in residential buildings of up to 4 floors, where the connection of the system will be carried out in accordance with the technical capabilities and requirements of future users. The tender stipulates that the user of the project is given the opportunity to install a suitable photovoltaic system, paying it off in equal monthly amounts equal to his average monthly electricity bill. The maximum investment repayment period is 10 years.
In order to secure funds for the implementation of this project, EPCG has issued an international public invitation to domestic and foreign financial institutions.
Another project that has been talked about for decades, and which was also relevant in 2022, is the heating of Pljevlja. At the beginning of the year, a contract was signed for the preparation of the conceptual design of the heating system, while in August a 3 million EUR tender was announced for the design and the first phase of construction of the heating pipeline. The companies Roto-Term from Pljevlja and Synergy Tech from Belgrade won the job.
Due to the enormous pollution in Pljevlja at the beginning of this year, the state initiated the procedure to make the heating of Pljevlja a project of national importance, in order to speed up its implementation.