Kosovo’s Energy Infrastructure Crucial for the Future
Walking through Prizren, Kosovo, one feels excitement at what this charming town of 70,000 could achieve in a few short years. Water and sewer lines are benefiting from upgrades. Homes and apartments are starting to crowd out houses that had been abandoned and became decrepit. Stellar Ottoman buildings are in the midst of renovation. Prizren still has its hurdles, however. The electricity grid is strained, as phantom wires sprout like Medusa’s hair from transformers, giving the appearance that it is a wonder homes can be lit at all. For many of Kosovo’s poor, wood is the fuel of choice. Walk around Prizren or other towns in Kosovo, or travel amongst its rural roads, and heaps of wood greet you everywhere. Wood is cheap, and for now it is plentiful. But unless more reliable supplies of energy can reach Kosovo, the fledgling republic, recognized by some powers but shunned by others, risks losing its next greatest asset after its people: its land due to deforestation. Hope is on the way. Transport appears to benefit from adequate supplies of diesel and even bodiesel. And new structures like our hotel in Prizren, use cost effective lighting. Nevertheless, as is the case throughout the Balkans, energy is often sourced from fickle countries, a concern as few fuel alternatives exist. Chatter over biofuels and clean energy is in its infancy, but the fact remains that Kosovo needs more dependable sources of energy in order to sustain its land for the long run. Access to coal and other traditional fossil fuels may make Greens and others on the left squirm, but for now, Kosovo could benefit from greater access to these sources of energy. In the short term, even coal would be a better alternative than mowing down Kosovo’s remaining forests. Can't get enough of the Balkans? Neither can I, so this series will continue for a while . . .