Western Balkans Energy Transition: The CROSSBOW Project

On May 12th, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe organized second Briefing on Energy Transition in the Western Balkans. After the initial evaluation of present achievements and next steps in the first session, we partnered with CROSSBOW (Horizon2020) to deliver remarks on technology and innovation products developed to optimize the use of renewable energy sources and cross border management.

The event was opened by welcome remarks from the FES SOE team, and followed by an introduction to the CROSSBOW Project by Mr. Luis Viguer Torres (Grupo ETRA). Mr. Viguer gave a brief project overview, highlighting the project’s strategic goal, which is the shared use of resources that would foster cross-border management of variable renewable energies and storage units. This would in turn enable a higher penetration of clean energies, while reducing network operational costs and improving economic benefits.

Mr. Viguer was followed by several of his CROSSBOW colleagues, starting with assist. prof. Petar Krstevski. Mr. Krstevski presented in greater detail some of the project products and their benefits, namely, enabled cross-border management of renewables and storage units. He walked us virtually through high level use cases (HLUs) that they developed. HLUs serve as demonstrations of system integration with smart grid and storage technologies, with increased share of renewables in defined use cases by using the CROSSBOW products.

To bring us back in reality of implementation, Stefan Borozan, MSc, gave a presentation on existing progress of electricity sectors in Southeast Europe and the current level of compliance in the region with EU energy policy. CROSSBOW products present innovative solutions that can facilitate decarbonization, in line with SDG13, taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. Mr. Borozan concluded that electricity markets in SEE are generally meeting requirements and are not experiencing major issues with the current level of RES penetration, nevertheless, regulatory reform is necessary. An important area of focus for the region should be rolling out smart grids, digitalization and higher emphasis on cybersecurity that would follow. International support and regional cooperation remain an essential prerequisite for tackling future challenges.

As a last portion of the CROSSBOW overview, Aleksandra Krkoleva Mateska presented a case study on energy transition in North Macedonia and regulatory gap analysis co-developed with FES North Macedonia and FES SOE She spoke about the reforms in the electricity sector in the country, related to the implementation of the Energy Community legislative framework, and the key achievements in the implementation process.

Before turning to the audience for a discussion, we looked into the digitalization risks such as cybersecurity, inevitably linked to the smart systems. Mr. Simon Uzunov (Energy Community Secretariat) spoke about cybersecurity regulation in the Western Balkans and the need to be more prominently included in the countries' strategic documents. Mr. Uzunov also gave us insights into the Energy Community gap analysis on the existing cybersecurity regulation, specific to the energy sector. The analysis features an identification of main issues, as well as an analysis of existing security plans and designations.

The presentations were followed by a vibrant online discussion and questions for the CROSSBOW project and Energy Community Secretariat.

FES SOE continues or efforts to discuss energy transition in the region, and we will soon focus more on political economy of energy transition in the region.

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