Until 2020, Montenegro was the only country in the region that stood a chance of maintaining compliance with the Large Combustion Plants Directive. However, the situation has changed rapidly and in April 2021 the Energy Community Secretariat opened an infringement case against Montenegro.
The 225 MWe Pljevlja I lignite power plant has only one unit, and thus could not be subject to a National Emissions Reduction Plan. Since the plant generates around 40 per cent of Montenegro’s electricity, depending on the year, closing it looked unattractive. Therefore, the ‘opt-out’ option was chosen, in which Pljevlja I would be able to operate for a total of 20,000 hours between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2023. After that, it either has to close or to undergo a retrofit that would bring it into compliance with emission limit values for new plants, not existing ones.
But Pljevlja I’s operating hours at the end of 2020 were already at 21,003 breaching, therefore, the opt-out regime and the compliance with LCPD. In 2021, the plant operated for 6,450 hours, and in 2022 it worked for 6,949 more, getting to a total of 34,402 operating hours. If the trend continues, the plant will breach 40,000 hours in 2023, and all this without any investments in emissions reductions.
During the thousands of hours of illegal operation, the plant continues to pollute significantly, by emitting 46,504 tonnes of SO2, 3,954 tonnes of NOx and 560 tonnes of dust.