Fossil fuel dependency vs. energy efficiency and renewable energy
Balkan countries have the highest energy intensities in Europe, i.e. much more energy is used for the production of a unit of work here than in any European country. Nonetheless, very little investment and priority are given to increasing efficiency, in comparison to the investments going to unsustainable fossil fuel projects, such as thermal plants and pipelines, and to nuclear. The Energy Community of South Eastern Europe (ECSEE) is a process driven by Balkan governments and International Financial Institutions (IFIs), which promotes the development of the Balkans as a source of dirty and “cheap” energy and a transit region for oil and gas from the countries east of the EU.
The Balkan countries’ preoccupation with fossil projects is shortsighted considering the global rise in oil and gas prices and the relative lack of new discoveries of fossil fuel reserves, and it leaves little room for investment in sustainable EE/RE projects.
Balkan countries have high potential for developing energy production from renewable energy sources: sun, water, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy. However, these potentials are not studied and exploited enough.
The implementation of small scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects can bring greater benefit to local communities and small businesses. It is much more labour-intensive and can create new services in the local economy and increase employment, while decreasing inefficiency and dependency on costly resources from far away. Moreover, energy efficiency unequivocally leads to improved industrial environmental performance (by changing industrial processes) and reduced pollution from energy generation (by decreased energy consumption) with positive social and health impacts