This Clingendael series ‘The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans’ provides an inside perspective on the EU climate ambitions for the Western Balkan Six (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) and the challenges ahead. In this second contribution, we analyse the state of affairs with regard to energy diversification and greenification.
The energy sector in most Western Balkan countries is characterised by a heavy dependency on coal and outdated production facilities, posing severe environmental challenges to the region. Possessing significant renewable energy potential, the Western Balkan Six (WB6) in theory have good prospects of making a successful energy transition. In terms of natural resources, the region is also well placed as Albania and Serbia possess solid reserves of metals and rare earths that are needed to develop energy transition technologies, such as batteries, smart grids, solar panels and windmills. Yet the transition is hampered by several economic and political factors, such as a highly centralised energy market with only a few large suppliers, dynamics of clientelism and controversial outside investment (such as from China). This policy brief analyses the current challenges that prevent energy diversification and greenification in the region and asks how the recently launched EU Green Agenda for the Western Balkans can address these challenges.