Kosovo: Can Europe’s Poorest Company Become Renewable Energy Rich?
Europe is beset with a myriad of economic problems, and the problems are even worse in the Balkans. An area with a long, tortured past and proud cultures have been sidetracked by government corruption and inertia in the name of “ethnic conflict.” Bosnia’s government is in the middle of a meltdown, Serbia is hatching its own flock of oligarchs and Kosovo’s government has been distracted with a bevy of accusations. But others outside the region see hope—as in sustainable development
Nevertheless, Kosovo, along with much of southeastern Europe, still has potential. And some even see this nation as one with a potential to generate more clean energy, with hydro and wind power being two leading examples.
To that end, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has begun to focus on Kosovo. Before the new year, the EBRD launched a €100 million financing program for projects in Kosovo and its surrounding nations. For now most of the money is going towards refurbishment and construction of hydropower projects that can light up home is remote rural regions. The country is also on target to start building its first wind farm this year.
Whether such projects will boost employment in Kosovo is questionable. Large-scale renewable energy projects do not provide a surge in jobs. But it could help the nation divert resources, and money, away from expensive and volatile fossil fuels, allowing more funds to go towards education and other development programs. Kosovo’s people have certainly proven their resilience, pride and friendliness despite everything thrown at them. Hopefully sustainable development programs such as those the EBRD fund can help integrate the nation into the wider regional economy.
[Image credit: Leon Kaye]