The promise of solar power potential in Kosovo[1]

The sun provides more than enough energy to meet the entire world’s energy demand. In fact, solar and wind power could supply global energy demand 100-times over! While so far, the use of solar power has been rather limited in Kosovo[1], we are slowly seeing positive progress in harnessing this great potential. The urgency to move towards low-carbon development – and ultimately, carbon neutrality – coupled with the dramatically decreasing cost of technology is making solar power an attractive source of energy, in fact becoming the least cost solution in many cases.

Energy production is the biggest contributor to climate change. The use of fossil fuels – in the case of Kosovo[1], the burning of lignite coal, also significantly impacts the quality of the air we breathe – affecting our health, our wellbeing and livelihoods. Moving away from coal to cleaner energy sources will improve the quality of air and make cities healthier and more livable. Tackling climate change is critical to a sustainable future. It is one of our key priorities for us as UNDP. Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy is the only way the world can effectively tackle climate change. Solar and wind power plus energy storage will at the same time reduce the cost of energy long term.

UNDP’s “Support for Sustainable Prizren – Initiating Urban NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions)” has been a pioneering project in Kosovo[1] in stepping up climate action at the local level. The project has been funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) with co-financing from the Municipality of Prizren and UNDP. It has supported the development of a cross-sectoral investment plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a participatory approach – based on the GHG inventory conducted. Through establishment of the Green Growth Center, public-private partnerships have been facilitated. One of the pilot activities has included installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on top of Prizren’s Municipality Building. The solar panels will produce an estimated 30% of the energy that the Municipality Building needs.

A photo in this story
A photo in this story

Faton Citaku, Renewable Energy Engineer, working with local Solar Factory Jaha, tells us about the importance of this endeavor: “Approximately 97% of Kosovo’s[1] electricity needs are provided by two power plants: Kosova[1] A and Kosova[1] B which use coal as fuel. Although recently there have been made major investments on filters to reduce the harmful substances that are released from coal burning process, Kosovo[1]still has a significant pollution from these two power plants. Unfortunately, until recent years, there has been limited attention to the impact and environmental impacts.”

Solar panels produce electricity by transforming the continuous flow of energy from the sun into electricity. As simple as that! However, this process requires investments and Kosovo[1] is in a good position to become sustainable in this area. Mr. Citaku confirms this:

Kosovo’s[1] potential for generating energy from renewable sources, more specifically from photovoltaic systems, are significant and very important in protecting the environment. Kosovo’s[1] geographical location is considered relatively good for implementing photo-voltaic systems – which will make them very profitable. Kosovo[1] has more than 270 sunny days per year. Kosovo[1] is in a very favorable position to continue harnessing its solar power potential.

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Rather than looking at solar as a purchase that has a cost, solar panels can be seen as an investment. It also requires international knowledge and experience. Michael Gold, Managing Director of Crimson Capital, has explored solar energy system potentials in Kosovo[1]:

“Kosovo[1] gets most of its electricity from its coal power plants A and B. Even with these power plants, Kosovo[1] does not have enough energy to meet the needs of its people and businesses. At the same time, Kosovo[1] has committed to increasing the percentage of its energy from green, sustainable sources such as photovoltaic panels, wind, and biomass under the Energy Charter Treaty. Until recently, there has been a very limited number of solar power systems installed in Kosovo[1], but that is now starting to change.” said Mr. Gold.

He thinks that both public and private actors, as well as households, need to be made more aware of the opportunities and economic benefits of installing PV systems. Coordination is needed between households, businesses, and independent power producers (IPP) installing solar panels, as well as local energy and finance consultants, and financial institutions to accelerate adoption of new PV systems. “Knowledge is power.”

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Mr. Gold told us that for solar IPPs, the Energy Regulatory Office (ERO) needs to finalize a new procedure for authorizing new IPPs. It needs to determine the electricity price at which the IPP can sell its solar energy. “ERO is currently developing, with support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a new auction procedure for accomplishing this. For businesses, public buildings and households that primarily consume themselves the solar energy they would produce and don’t transfer any of the power to the electricity grid, they can install solar panels now. In the case that they would like to transfer excess electricity back to the grid to further their energy costs, it would be helpful for ERO to increase the size of projects that qualify for what is called net metering, where the user gets an offset for excess solar electricity produced that they transfer back to the electricity grid. The current cap is 100 kW. It is recommended that this be increased to at least 400-500 kW”, said Mr. Gold.

According to Mr. Gold, economic growth requires the availability of sufficient energy. Increasing solar installations will create quality jobs for solar panel manufacturers, installers and maintenance personnel. “In addition, it will support other sectors, such as the metal processing industry for metal support structures, piping, etc. Overall, increasing the use of solar power will create new sales and jobs, while greening the economy and Kosovo[1] as a whole, and reducing the cost of energy to businesses and households that install solar”, he said.

USAID, through its Kosovo[1] Energy Security of Supply (KESS) Project has performed a comprehensive analysis of the current solar sector in Kosovo[1] and its potential for the future, and has made recommendations to the regulatory framework to accelerate the further adoption of solar power. An important finding of the study is that installing solar panels is affordable and cost effective for many households and businesses, and that at current prices and conditions is now often financeable by the local banks and microfinance institutions.


As UNDP, we are determined to reduce our own carbon footprint – and as an organization, we have already made good progress in making UNDP “greener”. UNDP in Kosovo[1] has been closely monitoring our energy consumption and carbon emissions over the past years, and actively sought solutions for reducing our emissions.

UNDP in Kosovo[1] is proud to be among the 20 UNDP offices worldwide, out of almost 170 globally, to have installed solar panels in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

The installation of a 27 kWp grid-connected PV system has just been completed. It is expected to provide around 24% of the total electricity demand of the UN House in Pristina which houses several UN entities. The system will allow us to cut our CO2 emissions by approximately 36 tons annually (which means 22% reduction of CO2 emissions), effectively reducing UNDP Kosovo’s[1] carbon footprint and burden on the environment. The office will also be less dependent on the Kosovo[1] grid for electricity supply and have reduced electricity bills. This investment was made possible through the support received from UNDP’s Green Energy Solutions Team.

We look forward to the further greening of Kosovo’s[1] energy supply over the next several years!

1[] All references to Kosovo in this document shall be understood in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).