North Macedonia wins EU praise for pioneering coal-to-solar shift


SKOPJE: The European Union energy watchdog praised North Macedonia on Wednesday for a pioneering project among EU aspirants to transform an ageing coal mine into two solar power plants, in line with goals to cut pollution and tackle climate change. The 27-member bloc has rolled out plans to be net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century, but faces resistance from its more coal-dependentmembers, led by Poland. The Energy Community, an international body established by the EU and nine aspiring member states, aims to extend the bloc’s energy policy to would-be members. “With this project, North Macedonia shows an excellent example of how coal regions can be profitably transformed, providing new employment opportunities for former coal workers and driving sustainable regional development,” Janez Kopac, the head of the Vienna-based Energy Community Secretariat, said in a statement. The government of North Macedonia issued a tender seeking investors to build two solar power units with a combined capacity of up to 100 megawatts (MW) at the site of the coal mine in western village of Oslomej in a partnership with the state power utility ESM. Any interested parties can file their bids for the project, valued ataround 80 million euros ($86.30 million), by May 8. The contract will be valid for 35 years, during which the private investor will pay to the ESM an annual fee equal to 10% of the revenues from the sale of the solar park’s power output at market prices.