A shared green future for China and the Balkans

Chinese experts and observers believe that there's great room for China to cooperate with those countries in the energy sector as China itself is moving up the green ladder.

THAT China and the Balkan countries share a green future is the message of an international Balkan energy investment conference held in Beijing on March 30 by Accenture and the Chinese trade magazine, Nengyuan.

Business cooperation in the energy sector between China and the Balkan countries has been gaining pace in the past five years under the Belt and Road initiative.

The first wind turbines from China arrived in Montenegro in March for the Mozura Wind Farm, a project led by the Shanghai Electric Power (Malta) Holding Co, while talks between Chinese and Romanian partners over the construction of two new reactors at Romania’s Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant are underway.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Stanari Thermal Power Plant, which is equipped with Chinese clean coal technology, has been operating for a year and a half.

For Balkan countries, a few of which are non-EU members committed to EU integration, sourcing energy for electricity is an imperative to drive their economies, with a rising percentage of renewable energy in electricity production and higher energy efficiency in focus.

Chinese experts and observers believe that there’s great room for China to cooperate with those countries in the energy sector as China itself is moving up the green ladder. Sun Yue, Director of Accenture Resources China, said China is a leading renewable energy technology provider especially in wind power production and has rich experience in running thermal power plants.

Du Xiangwan, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and vice director of China National Energy Expert Advisory Committee, said China can also potentially offer advanced energy storage and smart grid technology which is quintessential to efficient use of new energy.

The lack of funds for Balkan countries to develop their energy sectors will be addressed as new China-led international investors such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund are expected to be increasingly engaged, said Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and former vice minister of commerce.

Wei Guoxiong, chief counselor of the China-CEE Fund, a government-backed private equity fund which aims to raise 10 billion euros (US$12.3 billion) to invest in Central European Countries and beyond, said the fund is especially interested in onshore wind farms, solar power stations and new energy companies.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies are taking a step closer to their potential business partners.

Shanghai Electric Power (Malta) Holding Co, which was established at the end of 2014, has employees from seven countries including the Balkans and targets new energy projects in Europe of 300MW within the first five years. The Montenegran wind farm has a capacity of 46MW.

PowerChina, one of the world’s largest players in the energy sector, opened its Eurasian headquarters in Istanbul last year and the regional office has been playing an active role in bridging business opportunities and making decisions. The company has signed projects of about US$2.4 billion in Central and Eastern Europe since 2012.

Accenture in a report said the Balkan countries are an ideal destination for energy investors as EU integration brings a better legal and business environment, while foreign investors in the energy sector are entitled to significant benefits.

However, investors are also told to be prepared for complicated administrative issues involved in realization of energy projects and longer-than-average wait in charging utility bills.

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