ContourGlobal launches tender to build new Kosovo coal plant

PRISTINA, June 21 (Reuters) - U.S.-based power generator ContourGlobal said it has launched a tender to build a 500-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Kosovo, expected to cost around 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion).

It will be the biggest energy investment in nearly three decades in a country struggling with power shortages. Around 90 percent of its electricity is produced in two ailing coal-fired plants, among Europe’s worst polluters.

“The process of selection is a two-stage international competitive tender following applicable World Bank Procurement Guidelines,” ContourGlobal said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

“It consists of an initial selection process followed by requests for proposals,” it said, adding the deadline for applications for initial selection is August 2.

The Word Bank said last week it still has not decided whether to support the project. The Kosovo government had asked the lender earlier to provide partial risk guarantees for the project that would enable cheaper loans for construction.

Kosovo has more than 14 billion tonnes of proven lignite reserves, the fifth largest in the world.

If the World Bank does not give its support, it remains unclear how the project will proceed. The government earlier said the project was expected to help Kosovo’s economic growth rise to 5 or 6 percent in the coming years, from 3.7 percent in 2017.

Environmentalists have complained the plant could lock Kosovo into a future powered by lignite – the dirtiest form of coal.

But ContourGlobal said the new plant will improve air quality by reducing the emissions from the two plants that are polluting the area, one of which will close.

“Dust emissions will be reduced by 93 percent, while sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides will be reduced by 84 percent and 93 percent respectively, with carbon dioxide being cut by 37 percent,” ContourGlobal said.

The company also said that it hopes to secure an equity partner by the end of the year or early in 2019. (Reporting by Fatos Bytyci)