North Macedonia’s National Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP) includes all eight existing large combustion plants from the energy sector. Out of these, two have not been operational since the NERP entered into force, and two are gas-fired heating plants that were already in line with the 2017 LCP BREF. From 2018 until 2021, the Bitola and Oslomej coal-fired power plants were the only large combustion plants that were relevant for (non)compliance with the country’s NERP. But in late 2021, the heavy oil plant in Negotino also re-started operations and continued to operate throughout 2022.
SO2 emissions from coal combustion saw the highest rise even though the Bitola B3 unit was offline all year. The two remaining stacks emitted 113,823 tonnes of SO2 into the atmosphere. Bitola B1+B2 almost doubled its emissions compared to previous years, and with 111,408 tonnes, breached the national ceiling of 15,855 tonnes by seven times alone. This is also the highest amount of SO2 emitted by a single stack in the Western Balkans in 2022. Bitola 1+2 even single-handedly breached the regional ceiling, making it the worst polluter in the region, even with unit 3 out of action.
North Macedonia’s dust emissions were also the highest since 2018, with the Bitola B1+B2 and Oslomej stacks emitting 4,202 tonnes and breaching the national ceiling by 2.5 times. Bitola B1+B2 produced 3,899 tonnes of dust, more than 90 per cent of the overall dust pollution from large combustion plants in the country. As with SO2, this is the highest amount of dust emitted by a single stack in the region.
NOx emissions also saw a significant increase in 2022, again mostly driven by an increase of emissions from Bitola B1+B2. The total emissions from coal firing were 5,789 tonnes, exactly 2,000 tonnes more than in 2021. Although this is still lower than the unnecessarily high national ceiling, if there are no investments or closures before 2027 and this trend continues, the country might also breach the NOx ceiling from the NERP at the end of its validity.
The heavy oil plant in Negotino also breached its individual ceilings for all pollutants by several times, but its numbers are dwarfed by the pollution caused by the Bitola power plant.