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Big hydropower dams are not a priority in Myanmar – Mr Win Khaing

Reuters reported that big hydropower dams are not a priority in Myanmar's strategy to tackle chronic power shortages, the country's new energy minister said in an interview that cast doubt over a controversial China-backed project in the country's north.

Already the construction minister, Win Khaing has overhauled the poor Southeast Asian country's power strategy since being given the additional brief for electricity and energy in August.

The de facto leader of Myanmar's civilian government Aung San Suu Kyi chose Win Khaing to help fix crumbling road and electricity networks, as part of a mission to create jobs in an economy that has slowed to a still creditable 6.5 percent growth.

In his first interview with international media since the reshuffle, Win Khaing told Reuters that he favoured imports of liquefied natural gas and small scale hydropower projects as part of the solution to keeping the lights on.

Valued at USD 3.6 billion, the Myitsone dam project has been a sticking point between the two countries since the former military-backed government suspended work in 2011.

Reuters reported in April that officials in China and Myanmar were discussing alternative options that would allow Myanmar to scrap the massive project amid environmental concerns.

The proposed dam, on the upper reaches of the Ayeyarwady river in Kachin state, would have sent most of its power across the border to China's Yunnan province, which now has an oversupply of electricity as it switches to less energy-intensive industries amid an economic slowdown.

Mr Win Khaing said that "Sometimes things change. Now China is overflowing with energy they don't need power right now. Actually they have a surplus of power right now, especially from hydropower. What was very, very important 10 years ago has different perspectives right now."

A government panel set up in August 2016 was still reviewing the dam, he said, adding the government was in dialogue with the Chinese operator, State Power Investment Corp subsidiary Yunnan International Power Investment.

The panel had not met since August, when it submitted a second report to Myanmar's President Htin Kyaw, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Source : Reuters
Nepal scraps Budhi Gandaki Hydro Power project reported that Nepal government on Monday scrapped the contract for the construction of Budhi Gandaki hydropower project which was awarded to China’s Gejuwa Group citing irregularities and lack of transparency. Located in Central/Western Development region on the Budhi Gandaki River of Nepal, the Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project is a storage type project.

The decision to scrap the construction contract of the 1,200 MW project was taken at a meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Singhadarbar on Monday. The project was supposed to be developed in Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing model.

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa took to twitter to inform that as directed by the parliamentary committees, the project has been scrapped. He said that “The agreement marred by irregularities with the Chinese company Gejuwa Group regarding the construction of Budhi Gandaki hydropower project has been scrapped in a cabinet meeting as directed by the parliamentary committees.”

Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project was granted to the Gezhouba Water & Power (Group) Co Ltd (CGGC) company one and half year ago by the then Maoist-led government headed by the Former Prime Minsiter Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda). The then Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on June 4 in that regard.

Earlier it was reported that, if constructed, the Budhi Gandaki hydro power was most likely to displace 3,560 households and 8,117 families in Dhading. The project was estimated to cost NPR 250 billion.

Source : India com
USD 1.6 billion Canada-New England hydropower project wins key permit

ABC News reported that Department of Energy awarded a key permit for a transmission project that would carry hydropower from Canada to more than a million homes in southern New England. The granting of what is called the Presidential permit allows for the USD 1.6 billion project to take hydropower across an international border and connect to the United States grid. First conceived in 2010, the Northern Pass project calls for building a 192-mile electricity transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield in New Hampshire, carrying enough Hydro-Quebec energy to power about a 1.1 million homes.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Uttarakhand govt pressing for clearances to 10 hydro power projects in state

Economic Times reported that the Uttarakhand government is now pushing hard for faster clearances for 10 hydropower projects in the state. Towards this aim, the state is seeking the intervention of the central government in order to bolster the power generation capacity of the hill state.

During a recent visit by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar to Dehradun, power secretary Ms Radhika Jha gave a detailed presentation to him in which she raised the issue of the stalled hydro projects in the state as a result of which investments to the tune of INR 41,000 crore, she said, are on hold in Uttarakhand.

A few of these projects are Lata Tapovan (171 MW) in Dholiganga river as well as Loharinag Pala (600 MW) and Pala Maneri (480 MW), both of which are on the Bhagirathi river.

After the flashfloods in 2013, all the hydropower projects in the state were put on hold by the Supreme Court. However, citing that the held-up projects were impacting the state’s power sector growth, the power secretary said that the state government had given a presentation to the Niti Aayog requesting that “implementation of 10 small hydro projects (with a total capacity of 82.5 MW) should be allowed in Bhagirathi Eco?sensitive Zone, as has been allowed in other ESZs.”

However, conservationists are not pleased with the fresh interest of the Uttarakhand government in the hydropower projects. Mr Himanshu Thakkar, convenor, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People told TOI that “It is surprising that the state government instead of completely scrapping the hydropower projects is trying hard to revive them. I feel it would be a big mistake if this is allowed to happen.”

Source : Economic Times
Nepal government to build Budhigandaki Hydro using its own technology

My Republica Nepal government has decided to build the Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project itself, using its own technology, and state-owned power utility Nepal Electricity Authority is to be the project developer. The cabinet decision on building the 1,200 MW reservoir-type project has come 11 days after the government scrapped an earlier agreement awarding the project to the Chinese company, China Gezhouba Group Corporation.

In taking its decision, the cabinet said the decision of the former government was ill-intentioned and inappropriate. Budhigandaki is a dream project that is expected to bail the country out of its the power crisis. But using Nepal's technological knowhow alone is probably a bad idea because the country has been importing technology and major equipment as well as expertise for several other hydropower plants.

The cabinet also set up a committee led by Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission Swarnim Wagle for studying the project's Engineering Procurement, Construction and Finance modality. This modality is a first for the country.

The committee members include the secretaries of the Ministries of Finance and Energy, the governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, a joint secretary ( policy division) of the Energy Ministry and the managing director of NEA. The committee will submit its report within 15 days.

The decision of the government led by the Nepali Congress (NC) to scrap the project accord with the Chinese has angered the left alliance. The CPN-UML chairman has already threatened to roll back the scrap decision once it comes into power. NC was also in the coalition government led by Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal when it awarded the project to the Chinese company.

Former bureaucrats have said that the project costing about NPR 260 billion can be developed like the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower, under a company model with co-financing by different institutions, including the Citizens Investment Trust, Employees Provident Fund and Nepal Telecom.

Sheetal Babu Regmi, a former energy secretary, said that the government's decision is a correct one. He said that "The project cost will be about Rs 300 billion and it may take a decade. Do the math and it may require annual outlays of only about NPR 30 billion.”

Mr Regmi elaborated that the government may actually have to put up only NPR 20 billion annually because NPR 13 billion has already been collected through the NPR 5 surcharge levied per liter on petrol, diesel and aviation fuel as infrastructure tax. NPR 10 billion is collected annually from the surcharge on petroleum products.

Source : My Republica
BHEL commissions 30 MW Hydro Unit in Mizoram

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited has successfully commissioned the second unit of the 2x30 MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Project in the state of Mizoram. Significantly, the unit has been commissioned by BHEL in less than a hundred days of the commissioning of the first unit. Located in Kolasib district of Mizoram, the greenfield project of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited has been set up on the river Tuirial. Power generation from Tuirial HEP will contribute significantly to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and contribute towards achieving a low carbon development path for the nation.
Source : Strategic Research Institute
India’s hydro power policy is in final stages - Mr RK Singh

Economic Times quoted power minister Mr R K Singh as saying that hydro power policy is in the final leg and will soon be sent for the Cabinet approval. Mr Singh while addressing roundtable on hydro power organised by Assocham said that "The hydro policy is in final stages. It will soon go for Cabinet for approval."

Asked how soon the policy will be sent for the Cabinet approval, the minister said that "it may take ten days.”

The minister also assured the industry representatives that he would look into their demands for restructuring debt over stranded hydro projects as well as their refinancing by Power Finanace Corp and Ireda.

As per the draft hydro-power policy, it will aim to provide INR 16,709 crore support for 40 stalled hydel projects with 11,639 MW capacity, and to classify all such ventures as renewable energy.

Once it is approved, the distinction between large and small hydro plants will go, which would help India to achieve clean power capacity of 225 GW by 2022.

At present, a hydro power project of up to 25 MW is classified under renewable energy and is entitled to various incentives provided by the government. Projects beyond this capacity are not in this category and hence not entitled to the benefits.

India has set an ambitious target of adding 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power (up to 25 MW capacity each).

Under the policy, the government will provide interest subvention of 4 per cent during construction for up to 7 years and for 3 years after the start of commercial operation to all hydro power projects above 25 MW.

It is proposed that the funding for this policy will come from coal cess or national clean energy fund or non-lapsable central pool of resources for Northeastern states for eight years till 2024-25.

A Hydro Power Fund would be created under the power ministry for providing funds to the projects under the policy. The policy also provides for Hydro Purchase Obligation for hydro projects of over 25 MW capacity. Under this, the discoms would be mandated to buy a proportion of power from these plants.

However, this benefit will be available to those hydro power plants, which would be able to begin commercial operations after five years of notification of this policy.

The policy will also mandate power ministry to engage with bankers and financial institutions for modifying lending terms and conditions for hydro power projects.

Source : Economic Times
SAIL supplies around 70% steel for Mizoram’s biggest Tuirial Hydro Electric Project

Committed to supply and partake in the projects of national development, Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) has supplied around 70% steel for the Tuirial Hydro Electric Power project, Mizoram’s biggest power project. This was dedicated to the nation by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi. SAIL has supplied approximately 5000 tonnes of PM Plates, Structural and TMTs for this project including value added steel ASTMA 537 Cl1 plates.

SAIL is supplying steel for several vital projects in country’s north eastern region. The Company supplied around 90% steel for constructing country’s longest Dhola-Sadiya bridge in Assam, which was also recently inaugurated. Other than this, SAIL is supplying steel for projects including Bogibeel Rail-cum-Road bridge, several power plants including 750 MW power plant of NTPC, 600 MW Kameng Hydro-electric project, Trans Arunachal highway etc which all are very important projects for the region.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Indian PM inaugurates Tuirial hydropower project in Mizoram

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has formally inaugurated a new 60MW hydropower project built at a cost of INR 1302 crore (USD 202.85 million) in the North East Indian state of Mizoram on the Tuirial River. Although, the Tuirial Hydro-power project was initiated in 1998, it took close to 20 years to commission its two units. While the first unit of the hydropower station was placed into service in late August, the second one was commissioned in late November.

The hydropower project located near Kolasib also features the earthfill and gravity dam constructed over Tuirial River as a Government of India project that was executed by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation.

Grappled by various hurdles, the project faced a delay of about 12 years although it was originally slated to be commissioned in July 2006, as per a report in The Times Of India.

Following its commissioning, the Tuirial hydro project is set to generate 251 million units of electrical energy per annum, and is expected to lift the socio-economic development of Mizoram.

The project will also help Mizoram to become the third power-surplus state in North East India after Sikkim and Tripura. This is because the existing demand for power in Mizoram is 87MW which is being covered by already operating mini power projects in the state along with power supplied from central government power projects.

Modi said: “This project will boost eco-tourism, and provide a source of assured drinking water supply. I am informed that the State has a hydro-power potential of 2100 Mega-Watts, of which we have so far tapped only a fraction.”

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Egypt wants World Bank to help on Ethiopia hydro dam impasse

Economic Times reported that Egypt wants World Bank to help on Ethiopia hydro dam impasse Egypt says the World Bank should be brought in to resolve tensions with Ethiopia over a massive dam on the Nile River that Egypt says threatens its water security.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke Tuesday in Addis Ababa after a 10 month impasse over the dam's technical negotiations. The talks also involve Sudan.

Shoukry calls the World Bank "neutral and decisive" and said that "science should be the determining factor" in resolving the issue.

Ethiopia said that the Grand Renaissance Dam's construction will not reduce Egypt's water share.

Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu says Ethiopia will consider Egypt's proposal and that "this dam is not going to cause any significant harm."

The dam, now 63% complete, will be the biggest hydro electric plant in Africa.

Ethiopia's leader is expected to visit Egypt next month.
Source : Economic Times
Bankroet dreigt voor Nederlandse ontwikkelaar van getijdenturbines

Gepubliceerd: 03 januari 2018 15:36 Laatste update: 03 januari 2018 15:35

Tocardo, een Nederlandse ontwikkelaar van turbines voor getijdenenergie, heeft uitstel van betaling gekregen.

Dit meldt RTL Z woensdag. De surseance volgt op het stuklopen van een aandelenverkoop aan het Canadese energieconcern Tribute Resources.

Tocardo kwam in het nieuws door de ontwikkeling van een turbine die groene energie kon opwekken met behulp van de getijden. Prototypes werden getest bij de Afsluitdijk en in 2015 werden vijf turbines geplaatst bij de Oosterscheldekering.

Maar de turbines zijn voorlopig nog geen concurrerende technologie op de Nederlandse energiemarkt. De kostprijs van de opgewekte stroom was hoger dan de opbrengst waardoor er subsidie nodig was.

Offshoreconcern Huisman, sinds 2012 aandeelhouder, verkocht in 2016 het aandelenbelang door de hoge kosten van de turbines. Tribute Resources nam een belang van 46 procent over en zou ook de resterende aandelen kopen, maar woensdag bleek dat beide bedrijven het niet eens konden worden over de voorwaarden.
Nepal urges global players to explore its hydro power potential

Economic Times reported that over 30 energy sector players from around the world including India today converged in Nepal to explore the country's hydropower potentials. The aim of the expo was to assist the Nepal government in achieving its objective of generating 17,000 megawatt (MW) of hydro electricity in the next seven years, said Vijaya Sagar Pradhan, managing director of Expo and Event Management private limited, the main organiser of the event.

Over 30 hydropower generators, producers of electrical equipments, investors, consultants and designers from Nepal, India, China, South Korea, Norway, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Sweden and Austria showcased their products and services at the three-day expo 'Himalayan Hydro Expo 2018'.

Italy's CMC, Germany's VOITH; BFL, CRYSTAL, FLOVEL from India, VAPTECH - Bulgaria, MAVEL - Czech Republic, Powerchina, CSEC from China among others participated.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the exhibition on Friday and said Nepal could not utilise its huge hydropower potential due to various reasons and that, it produced only 700 MW of hydro-electricity in the last one hundred years.

The president urged private players to join hand with the government in harnessing Nepal's immense hydro potentials.

She also called for more foreign investment in the sector for attaining economic prosperity. SBP CPS.

Source : Economic Times
J&K has hydro power potential of 16,475 MW – Government

Jammu and Kashmir has a potential to produce 16,475 MW of hydro power as per the assessment made by Central Electricity Authority, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh told Legislative Council. In a written reply to the question of BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa in the Council, Singh said out of total, 11,283 MW of hydro power can be produced on river Chenab, followed by 3,084 MW on river Jehlum and 1,608 MW on Indus river.

A total of 3,263.46 MW has been harnessed on three western rivers from Jehlum, Chenab and Indus through state, central and public private partnership mode of execution.

He said that while four projects 9 MW Dah project, 9 MW Hanu project, 37.5 MW Parnai project and 48 MW Lower Kalnai project are under execution, Chenab Valley Power Project has been entrusted to implement three hydro power projects in Kishtwar including 1,000 MW Pakal Dul, 624 MW Kiru and 540 MW Kwar.

Source : Economic Times
Chameliya Hydropower project adds 15 MW to Nepal national grid

The Himalayan Times reported that Chameliya Hydropower Project funded by Government of Nepal and Republic of Korea through Economic Development Corporation Fund has added 15 megawatt of electricity to the national grid on Friday.

Project Chief Ajay Kumar Dahal informed that “The project has an installed capacity of 30 megawatt out of which 15 megawatt has been synchronised to Nepal Electricity Authority’s national transmission line on Friday afternoon.”

Despite having the first right to consume, the locals have been deprived from utilising electricity produced from Chameliya Hydropower as NEA has not yet built transmission line and substation on local level.

China’s Gezhouba Group Corporation has been overseeing the construction of the project initiated with a target-cost of INR 8.34 billion. The project is now estimated to cost INR 16 billion upon completion.

Source : The Himalayan Times
Himachal government to float tender for Jangi hydel project

Economic Times reported that Himachal Pradesh government is going to float global tender for the 960 MW Jangi-Thopan-Powari hydro power project proposed at Satluj basin in Kinnaur district. The state power department has taken the decision to invite global bids for this mega project within next three months. For the past 10 years, issue of allocating project had been hanging fire and residents of panchayats to be affected were also opposing it.

Himachal power minister Mr Anil Sharma confirmed the development.

Earlier, the project was allotted to Brakel Corporation for two separate units of 480 MW each as Jangi-Thopan and Thopan-Powari through competitive global bidding process. However, later the state cabinet decided to call for bids again for the Jangi-Thopan and Thopan-Powari projects as a single Jangi-Thopan-Powari project of 960 MW capacity as per the new hydel policy.

In July 2013, the cabinet decided to go for the rebidding for the allotment of Jangi-Thopan-Powari project after its allotment run into rough weather following legal dispute.

In September 2015, the government decided to refund the upfront premium of Rs 280 crore in lieu of Jangi-Thopan (480MW) and Thopan-Powari (480MW) hydel projects to Adani Power Limited. Later, the government took a U-turn on its decision.

Source : Economic Times
Massachusetts Selects Hydro-Québec for Clean Energy

Massachusetts utilities announced that they have selected a Hydro-Québec proposal to supply a large quantity 9.45 TWh of firm clean energy, which will help the state enhance reliability and contribute to its greenhouse gas reduction requirements. The Northern Pass Transmission project was selected to deliver 100 percent hydropower by the Massachusetts evaluation team after a competitive solicitation process. The next steps are to negotiate long-term contracts and obtain regulatory approval of agreements to ensure the delivery of this large volume of power for 20 years.

Mr Éric Martel, president and chief executive officer of Hydro-Québec said that “We are pleased and proud to have been selected. This is a major milestone in the energy transition under way in the Northeast, one that confirms the high value of Hydro Québec's clean and reliable energy. We're confident negotiations with Massachusetts will lead to an agreement that is beneficial to all parties.”

The numerous attributes of Hydro-Québec hydropower are extremely well suited to contribute to the current and evolving energy needs of Massachusetts and New England. Starting in 2020, Québec hydropower will provide a clean, firm, reliable supply for some one million Massachusetts customers. This represents significant progress towards a clean energy future for the Northeast.

A long-term agreement with Massachusetts would be the most important contract for Hydro-Québec since it began developing its export markets. Moreover, it will be a meaningful source of revenue for Hydro Quebec.
Northern Pass Transmission

Hydro-Québec developed this proposal alongside Eversource Energy, proven energy leaders. The project involves the construction of a 1090 mW transmission line about 49 mi. long. This line will be extended into the United States and will connect Des Cantons substation in Val-Joli to Franklin substation in southern New Hampshire.

Mr Jim Judge, Eversource president and CEO said that “We are pleased with the decision, and appreciate the thorough review by the Massachusetts' bid evaluation team. The clean, affordable power flowing over Northern Pass into the New England grid in 2020 will provide customers in the Commonwealth and throughout the region with much-needed energy price relief and emissions reductions and will deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to the region for years to come.”

Hydro-Québec will invest more than USD 680 million (Canadian dollars) for the Québec portion of the transmission project, consisting of construction of a new transmission line and equipment additions in the Des Cantons substation.
What's Next

The following steps include approval of agreements to ensure the delivery of this large quantity of energy over the next 20 years. We expect to start work on the Québec–New Hampshire interconnection in the fall of 2018.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Two hydropower plants authorized in Morocco

In parallel to the “Photovoltaica” congress of renewable energies in Marrakech, Voltalia announced it has obtained permits for two hydropower plants of 9.8 MW and 7.2 MW in Morocco. Delivered by the Moroccan Ministry for Energy, the permits relate to two hydropower plants projects of 9.8 MW and 7.2 MW, located in the Middle-Atlas region.

These permits follow positive technical approvals delivered by the National Bureau for Electricity and Drinking Water regarding the connexion of the plants to the national grid. The concerned Water Basin Agencies have also given a greenlight, taking into account the quality of the projects presented by Voltalia. The electricity produced will be sold under long-term private PPAs, which are currently under negotiation with corporate clients.

Mr Sébastien Clerc, CEO of Voltalia said that “These permits come as a recognition of the extensive work done over the past three years by our Moroccan team. “

Mr Yoni Ammar, CEO of Voltalia Morocco said that “They confirm Voltalia’s capacity to position itself as a first class partner for the electricity provision of its clients, at a competitive price."

Source : Strategic Research Institute
BHEL commissions 18 MW Hydro-Electric Project in Punjab

With the commissioning of the second 9 MW hydro generating unit, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has successfully commissioned the 18 MW Mukerian Hydro-Electric Project (HEP) Stage-II in Punjab. The first unit of the 2x9 MW Mukerian HEP, commissioned in May, 2017 by BHEL, has been operating successfully.

Significantly, the 9 MW Bulb Generating set is the highest rated Bulb Generating set supplied by BHEL. Bulb turbines are specialized, state-of-the-art hydro turbines used for low head and high discharge applications. Bulb turbine assembly consists of generator internally integrated with the turbine in the bulb, which is immersed in water.

Located on the Mukerian canal in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, the 18 MW Mukerian project is a surface powerhouse of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL). The generation from Mukerian HEP Stage-II will contribute significantly in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and will help in achieving a low carbon development path for the nation.

BHEL’s scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of two units of 9 MW Horizontal Kaplan Turbines & Bulb Generators, Governing System, 66 kV Switchyard, Generator Transformers, Control, Protection, Metering & Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, etc.

Notably, BHEL has made significant contribution to the hydro power sector in the state of Punjab. The company has commissioned 1101 MW of hydro projects in the state which is approximately 84% of the total installed hydro capacity of 1318 MW.

BHEL is presently executing hydro electric projects of around 3,000 MW in the country which are under various stage of implementation. In addition, 2,940 MW of hydro projects in Bhutan are also under execution. Significantly, more than 500 hydroelectric generating sets of various ratings have been ordered so far on BHEL in India & abroad, with a cumulative capacity of more than 29,000 MW. Of these, about 5,700 MW generating capacity is for overseas projects. BHEL’s hydro plants are successfully and efficiently performing in India and across the world, including at Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nepal, Rwanda, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
Wedloop om het Balkanwater

Op de Balkan heerst goudkoorts, en dat goud is water. In hoog tempo worden hier honderden waterkrachtcentrales gebouwd, die schone energie aan Europa moeten leveren. De zes betrokken landen worden gelokt met een mogelijk EU-lidmaatschap, maar de protesten van boeren en milieu-activisten nemen toe.

Hoe kom ik straks aan water voor mijn frambozen?'

Avdi Tahiri staat bij zijn veld in Štrpce, een dorp in het bergachtige zuidoosten van Kosovo. Een paar jaar geleden kregen de inwoners van de gemeente te horen dat de Lepenica-rivier vanaf het moment dat straks de waterkrachtcentrale in bedrijf wordt genomen, negen maanden per jaar tot een klein stroompje wordt gereduceerd.
'Wij zijn nergens bij betrokken,' vervolgt hij.

De mensen in Tahiri's dorp vrezen dat ze door het lagere waterpeil in de rivier niet meer in hun levensonderhoud kunnen voorzien. In het najaar van 2015 kwamen Tahiri en zijn buren in opstand tegen de waterkrachtcentrale. De politie moest er zelfs aan te pas komen toen zij probeerden de bouwwerkzaamheden te belemmeren.

Hoe kom ik straks aan water voor mijn frambozen?'
Avdi Tahiri staat bij zijn veld in Štrpce, een dorp in het bergachtige zuidoosten van Kosovo. Een paar jaar geleden kregen de inwoners van de gemeente te horen dat de Lepenica-rivier vanaf het moment dat straks de waterkrachtcentrale in bedrijf wordt genomen, negen maanden per jaar tot een klein stroompje wordt gereduceerd.

'Wij zijn nergens bij betrokken,' vervolgt hij.
De mensen in Tahiri's dorp vrezen dat ze door het lagere waterpeil in de rivier niet meer in hun levensonderhoud kunnen voorzien. In het najaar van 2015 kwamen Tahiri en zijn buren in opstand tegen de waterkrachtcentrale. De politie moest er zelfs aan te pas komen toen zij probeerden de bouwwerkzaamheden te belemmeren.

Batterij van Europa
De Balkan is de grootste potentiële leverancier van waterkracht in Europa. Wat uniek is aan deze duurzame energiebron is de mogelijkheid om enorme hoeveelheden energie op te slaan; je kunt de bron naar believen aan- of uitzetten, afhankelijk van de vraag. Bij zon- en windenergie kan dat niet. Daarom wordt de Balkan tegenwoordig de 'batterij' van Europa genoemd.

Boven en onder: werkers en omwonenden bij de nieuwe waterkrachtcentrale van Strpce in Kosovo.

Dat heeft geleid tot een wedloop tussen duurzame energiebedrijven die straks dolgraag de aan- en uitknop van deze batterij willen bedienen. Zij hebben hun geavanceerde technologie al ingezet in deze regio, die als een proeftuin voor de toekomst wordt gezien.
'We kunnen er van uitgaan dat deze landen in de nabije toekomst deel gaan uitmaken van de geïntegreerde Europese markt, dus die markt wordt steeds aantrekkelijker voor Europese bedrijven die willen investeren in duurzame energie,' zo stond te lezen in een onderzoeksrapport van technisch adviesbureau Mott MacDonald dat de Commissie in december 2017 publiceerde.
De auteurs schatten het potentieel aan nieuwe elektriciteit in de regio op 45 GWh per jaar, net zo veel als de totale productie van Ierland. Volgens investeerder Aliquantum Energy kan Servië alleen ongeveer de helft van dit economisch rendabele potentieel leveren.
‘Deze landen zijn straks deel van de EU, dus die markt wordt aantrekkelijk voor bedrijven die willen inves­teren in duurzame energie’
Er wordt al gesproken over een nieuwe goudkoorts. In veel gevallen gaat het om kleine watermolens, maar er zijn al een paar enorme, traditionele stuwdammen gebouwd, zoals de twee Statkraft-dammen in de rivier de Devoll in Albanië, waar later mogelijk nog een derde bijkomt.
Landen die van oudsher al veel ervaring hebben met waterkracht, zoals Noorwegen, Oostenrijk en Italië, lopen voorop in deze wedloop. Maar hun benadering verschilt. Sommige producenten zien de Balkan als een proeftuin voor innovatieve ontwerpen.
Zo heeft de Oostenrijkse energiereus Verbund meer dan € 200 mln geïnvesteerd in twee 50 MW-centrales in Albanië die inmiddels operationeel zijn: Ashta 1 en 2. Ze werden geleverd door marktleider Andritz en werken met een matrixsysteem van 45 turbines die al naar gelang de vraag worden ingezet.
Andere bedrijven willen gewoon hun markt uitbreiden met reeds beproefde technologie. De centrale in Štrpce behoort tot deze laatste groep. Energi-Teknikk uit het Noorse Rosendal levert de turbines. Het heeft contracten afgesloten voor drie energieprojecten ter waarde van in totaal € 3 mln: Murino 1 en 2 in Montenegro en Lepents in Kosovo. Vanwege de hoge loonkosten in Noorwegen wordt een deel van het laswerk in Servië uitgevoerd.
Vele hindernissen
Maar er zijn talloze hindernissen voor de waterkrachtprojecten. Door gebrekkige documentatie weet niemand waar deze centrales precies komen en hoeveel er nu al zijn. Inmiddels wordt hier zelfs wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar gedaan. Sommige organisaties spreken van rond de 400 centrales in aanbouw, maar anderen schatten dit veel hoger, omdat in de cijfers kleinere centrales niet worden meegenomen (zie kader).
Als je de kleine projecten wel meetelt, worden er volgens de Oostenrijkse milieuorganisatie Riverwatch de komende jaren liefst 2700 nieuwe centrales bijgebouwd in de zes Balkanlanden. Als dat klopt, heeft dat grote gevolgen voor de natuur en de lokale gemeenschappen. Want bedrijven die een installatie van minder dan 10 MW willen bouwen, hoeven doorgaans geen effectbeoordeling op de omgeving uit te voeren.
Door gebrekkige informatie van overheden is het vaak onduidelijk welke natuurgebieden beschermd zijn en welke niet

Als de eerdergenoemde schatting correct is, betekent dit ook dat dit rijke gebied met zijn uitbundige natuur - door ecologen ook wel een 'hotspot van biodiversiteit' genoemd - ernstig wordt bedreigd. Veel zeldzame soorten zijn voor hun voortplanting en dus hun voortbestaan afhankelijk van de weelderige bergen, bossen en rivieren.

Omdat deze landen geen EU-lidstaten zijn, is het aan hun eigen nationale bureaucratieën om te bepalen hoe ze met deze veranderingen omgaan. Ze zijn vaak slecht toegerust voor deze zware taak, die grensoverschrijdende samenwerking vereist in een regio die nog altijd door etnische conflicten wordt gedomineerd.
Volgens Andrej Sovnic van de International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is het door beperkte of gebrekkige informatie veelal niet duidelijk welke natuurgebieden precies beschermd worden en welke niet. 'Ik heb de indruk dat de landen het zelf ook vaak niet weten, vanwege de chaotische manier waarop ze met hun gegevens omgaan,' geeft Sovnic aan.

Rond de waterkrachtcentrale naast de boerderij van Tahiri in Kosovo heerst nog altijd veel onduidelijkheid. Een journalist die vlak bij de rivier woont en voor de Servische tv werkt, vertelt dat de mensen vooral boos zijn vanwege de geheimzinnigheid rond het project.

Een due diligence-deskundige van een van de mogelijke financiers van dit project, de Noorse exportkredietverzekeraar GIEK, bezocht het dorp om eventuele negatieve gevolgen te inventariseren, maar constateerde geen problemen: 'er zijn geen maatschappelijke of ecologische factoren die de bouw van de energiecentrale in de weg staan,' concludeerde GIEK.

Dat standpunt is inmiddels verschoven. Een woordvoerder van GIEK zegt nu dat er niet zozeer gebrekkige due diligence is uitgevoerd, maar dat de online gepubliceerde conclusie 'niet definitief is'. Hij nodigt iedereen uit om eventuele problemen in de regio bij GIEK te melden.

Bijenkorven van lokale boeren die meer inspraak eisen rond het waterverbruik.
Deel 2:

In de race om het afdammen van de Balkanrivieren zouden instellingen als GIEK er baat bij hebben als er tevoren naar de negatieve gevolgen van de bouwplannen wordt gekeken. Volgens Commissiewoordvoerder Alceo Smerilli moeten niet alle plannen worden uitgevoerd en zijn de Europese ontwikkelingsbanken als de EIB en de EBRD de beste garantie dat er strenge normen worden gehanteerd. 'De betrokkenheid van deze internationale financiële instellingen is de beste garantie dat een project aan de hoogste duurzaamheidsnormen voldoet, want die hanteren zeer strenge zorgvuldigheidseisen,' aldus Smerilli.

De EU mag dan geen direct juridisch gezag hebben over de zes landen, maar door hen een verlokkelijke toetredingsworst voor te houden, probeert men ze ertoe te bewegen dat ze de Kaderrichtlijn Water en andere EU-wetgeving in acht nemen. Regelgeving die essentieel is voor het welslagen en de marktcondities van de waterkrachtprojecten.

'De wetgeving van de Westelijke Balkan moet zo snel mogelijk worden aangepast aan die van de EU, want anders blijven investeringen in waterkracht in deze landen een risicovolle onderneming en afhankelijk van internationale financiering,' aldus een Commissierapport uit december.

De zes landen worden al jaren in onzekerheid gehouden over EU-toetreding maar hebben al veel stappen gezet om hun energiemarkten te transformeren en af te stemmen op de behoeften van investeerders. Er worden nieuwe transportleidingen aangelegd en onlangs zijn er in een aantal landen elektriciteitsbeurzen opgericht, die de grensoverschrijdende verkoop van elektriciteit mogelijk maken.
Rond 2000 lieten investeerders zich nog afschrikken door de dalende elektriciteitsprijzen. Voor hen is het daarom cruciaal dat de prijzen op een renderend niveau komen. Het Oostenrijkse bedrijf ENSO heeft de sprong inmiddels gewaagd. Momenteel exploiteert het een 30 MW-krachtcentrale in Albanië en is er een tweede in aanbouw.

Een van de risicofactoren die in het Commissierapport worden genoemd is de verminderde neerslag in de Westelijke Balkan als gevolg van klimaatverandering. In een studie van de Wereldbank werd daar onlangs nog voor gewaarschuwd. Wolfgang Kröpfl, technisch directeur van ENSO ziet echter geen concreet gevaar. Na onderzoek met Duitse wetenschappers kwam zijn bedrijf tot de conclusie dat klimaatverandering geen rol zou spelen voor hun centrales.

Maar hun plannen zijn inmiddels weer vertraagd door milieuactivisten van Riverwatch. Zij wonnen vorig jaar een rechtszaak om stopzetting van de bouw van de Langarica-centrale, vanwege de mogelijke negatieve gevolgen voor de Vjosa-rivier. Riverwatch heeft in Albanië al veel protestacties georganiseerd, waaronder een groot concert in Tirana dit najaar, waar duizenden op afkwamen. De Westelijke Balkan blijkt niet alleen een potentiële batterij, maar ook een potentieel kruitvat.

Ragnar Skre is freelance journalist. Dit artikel kwam mede tot stand dankzij een subsidie van voor onderzoeksjournalistiek.

Gissen naar aantallen centrales
Europese beleidsmakers hebben een slecht beeld van de lokale dorpsprotesten tegen de bouw van waterkrachtcentrales, omdat er onduidelijkheid is over de aantallen. Christiane Zarfl van het Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlijn achterhaalde in 2015 na bestudering van diverse bronnen dat er op dat moment 410 grote energiecentrales in aanbouw waren, verspreid over de regio.

Mott MacDonald deed gerichter onderzoek voor de Europese Commissie, maar hun deskundigen kwamen na twee jaar intensief onderzoek en gesprekken met ambtenaren in elk land niet verder dan een schatting van 'meer dan 480' grote energiecentrales (groter dan 10 MW). Hoe dan ook: beide schattingen duiden op een forse groeitrend.

De rivier van Avdi Tahiri in Kosovo komt in geen van beide rapporten voor. Woordvoerder Alceo Smerilli van de Commissie legt uit dat het 'technisch niet haalbaar was' om alle energiecentrales onder de 10 MW mee te nemen. Daarom zijn deze kleinere centrales helemaal buiten beschouwing gelaten, ook al heeft een grote hoeveelheid kleine centrales relatief meer impact op het milieu dan een paar grote dammen. Kleine centrales nemen tegenwoordig slechts 3% van de opbrengst voor hun rekening, en 7% van de capaciteit.
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