RENEWABLE ENERGY DIRECTIVE CHANGES AND AMENDMENTS (REDII) address set of targets and actions and in order to foster the process of energy transition and economy decarbonization. The current proposal of REDII, increases the current EU-level target of ‘at least 32%’ of renewable energy sources in the overall energy mix to at least 40% by 2030, which represents doubling the current renewables share of 19.7% in just a decade. The Commission goal is increasing the share of renewables in the EU to make a decisive contribution to its ambition of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 – and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
This revision is in particularly focused on sectors where progress in penetration of renewables has been slower and unsatisfactory (transport, buildings and industry). Thus, among other, the revision encompasses certain form of additional targets, simplification of administrative procedures and handling the bottlenecks under the current rules, including accelerating the permitting process. In general, the REDII proposal is expected to enable EU energy systems to become more flexible, and to integrate renewables into the grid more efficiently and with faster dynamics. Further, it should enable district heating, heat pumps, home batteries and electric vehicles to fulfil their potential better. The proposal also supports the uptake of renewable hydrogen where electrification is more difficult. Moreover, it refers to strengthening the sustainability criteria for forest biomass – to ensure products such as biomass can continue to make an important contribution in a way that is consistent with the EU’s biodiversity objectives.
Macedonian status quo, obstacles and recommendations
Figure 1. Share of RES in final energy consumption in Macedonia
There are obstacles and gaps in monitoring of the strategic documents implementation related with renewables. Although the Law on Energy stipulates the adoption of the Strategy and Action Plan for RES for 10 years, the timeline for the adoption of the latter is not followed, including the control over the indicative trajectory for achieving of the defined targets. Namely, the ministry of economy has a legal obligation to follow the realization of the Action plan and to prepare a report for the previous two years, latest till 30th of November. Thus, if the share of RES in the last two years is lower than the defined indicative trajectory, than the Government is obliged to adopt revised Action plan and to submit it to the Energy Community Secretariat. The fulfillment of these obligation is questionable. Namely, the last Action plan is adopted in 2015, and encompass the period till 2025. In accordance with the Law stipulation, in 2017 a revised Action plan is adopted, which includes target of 23,9% RES share in 2020 in final energy consumption, while the assumption for 2025 is set to 25%. Even though the numbers in the years following 2017 are behind the targets, a revised Action plan was not prepared.
Having in prospect the proved negative impact of Small Hydro power plants (SHPPs) on environment, the subsidies should be reassessed and even halted. Further effort is needed in preventing political incentives from making subsidies more burdensome than they are beneficial.
Incentives for promotion of decentralised energy systems – small-scale energy generation units that deliver energy to local customers. These production units could be stand-alone or could be connected to nearby others through a network to share resources, i.e. to share the energy surplus.
Establishment of local energy communities in order to encourage the local citizens, small companies and others, to invest in small scale renewable energy sources. It could develop concrete and sustainable solutions that promote the development of local communities. The energy communities concept, enables a number of households and multi-appartment buildings to join together in investment in renewable energy sources (available on the site – such as roof PV, wind, biomass), and to become energy producers.
Macedonia should publish a long-term schedule anticipating the expected allocation of support. Such a long-term roadmap will facilitate investment planning and encourage higher participation in the auctions, which will result in increased competition and lower prices.
The implementation of the Energy Efficiency Law is poor. An education on energy efficiency benefits is very important, thus it the coordinated action of academia, business sector, media, local self-governments, etc., is required. Moreover, a systematic approach in monitoring and assessment of the implemented measures is lacking, as well as control over the distribution and spending of the means for subsidies. In addition, more transparency and deeper analyses of the cost benefit issues in terms of public funding projects is required.
Energy poverty in Macedonia is significant. It affects seriously on the citizens readiness to invest in energy efficient measures. In absence of relevant data, Energy Community made an assessment of the energy poverty rate in Macedonia, and it is assumed that it is 33%, which is one of the highest in the region of Western Balkans. Moreover, the definition and scope of energy poverty should be revised. Currently it only takes in consideration the economic and health status of the citizens. The revision should take in consideration gender, energy efficiency of homes and other issues that affects the energy poverty. Currently the Macedonian government only gives certain financial compensation for vulnerable groups, without addressing measures for improvement of their homes energy conditions, so they can have lower energy bills.
New tariff system for electricity, should encourage the usage of electricity for heating. Although in the Western Balkans region, Kosovo and Albania introduced such a model (higher electricity tariff for households that spend more than 600kwh per month), Macedonia just announced such an action during the winter 2021/2022, but it was never implemented. Nowadays, this policy action is again gaining public visibility, since Energy regulatory Commission announced specific steps.
Linking climate and energy targets and circular economy: It should be based on a long-term vision and common indicators in fostering more circular economy business models. By incentives and investments in circular economy, trough promotion of the resource efficiency importance and benefits (lower costs, lower waste and pollution), renewable energy sources share will be increased, thus enabling conditions for reaching climate targets in terms of GHG reduction.
Media institutions should accurately communicate environmental work, policies and reforms: The topics from energy and environment should be more present in the media and correspondently treated. There is a lack of more insightful and analytical journalists’ articles, which will raise the awareness of the public, and will trigger the public pressure on some vulnerable questions.
Ministry of education, economic chambers and academic community should be involved in preparing relevant curriculums for education of profiles in terms of maintenance and installation of PV’s, maintenance of wind turbine, hydrogen facilities etc., in secondary education system. Thus, greening of the existing Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and skills development is required and is very important precondition for the upcoming investments in renewable. There is a shortage of the profiles related with the operation and maintenance of renewable energy generation plants (e.g. maintenance workers for wind turbines, installation and maintenance of PV systems, etc.)
A committed and undoubtful decision and political will is required for setting the precise timeframe for coal-phase out in North Macedonia, as wel as government commitment to end public spending on coal. That would be a challange, because in trying to provide social peace, the politicians may prefer status-quo. Civl society organizations could foster the green transition by means of public campaigns on the coal pollution negative health impact. Market integration in combination with gradual carbon pricing is assessed as the most favourable scenario for all WB countries from the Energy Community. Such a policy option would support coal phase-out within a reasonable timeframe, without disproportionally affecting less flexible parties.
Final Report Study on Addressing Energy Poverty in the Energy Community Contracting Parties, Energy Community, Vienna, 2021.