By the end of 2022, Romania had met only 33 of the 55 milestones established in its multi-billion euro National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). Most problematically, major provisions around lignite-fired power plant closures remain blocked. Days before the first coal units were set to shutter, citing the ongoing war in Ukraine, lawmakers in Bucharest decided to delay closure until October 2023. While also moving forward with the construction of both new EU-funded fossil gas plants as well as U.S. subsidized nuclear reactors, NGOs and activists worry Bucharest is simply trying to cash in on the recovery monies while playing the European Union. Now regulators in Brussels have taken notice by delaying disbursement of billions in much needed green energy funding. Continuing the Romanian Power Move series, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the unfolding situation.
Though briefly this year, the Romanian government announced plans to phase out coal by 2030, with the war in Ukraine and the spiraling energy crisis, it now aims to place its coal-fired plants into reserve status with a total shut down fixed for 2032. Newly passed legislation makes this decision binding. With Brussels backing their transition plan, EU funds are flowing in to build new gas-fired and nuclear plants that will replace dirty coal. In the first of two blogs, Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum updates readers on Romania’s evolving Energy Transition.
Following changes to tax legislation, fossil gas is now flowing out of the Black Sea where an estimated 200 billion cubic meters of climate killing methane could be tapped. While drillers look further, homeowners and businesses are installing solar panels at record rates as “prosumers” look to cash in. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the nation’s energy transition in this edition of the Romanian Power Move.
With electricity prices sky-high, at the end of 2021 Romania’s government slapped huge new taxes directly on energy producers, with one huge carve out: the tax only applies to green energy producers – fossil fuels are exempt. Worse, Bucharest amended other laws that effectively cancel the nation’s Green Certificates scheme, the only renewable energy incentives in place. Just months after agreeing to phase out coal, green investors are being punished. In this edition of Romania’s Power Move, Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum explains this fresh challenge to renewables.
With national offices in Bucharest, NGOs Bankwatch and Greenpeace have long been active in Romania’s coalfields. Today both NGO’s are working closely with local governments in Gorj County – the nation’s lignite center – to help guide its transition into a renewable energy powerhouse. In this edition of the Romanian Power Move, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews how NGOs are assisting leaders on the ground to access Brussels-based support to fuel a green tech transformation within the nation’s most polluting region.
Following advice from the World Bank, most of Romania’s coal mines started shuttering in 1997. But this pivotal sector’s collapse left hundreds of thousands unemployed with few resources to help them transition to new careers. Only now, as the nation’s last underground mines prepare to close and Bucharest plots their lignite phase-out, are so-called “Just Transition” retraining programs and other projects finally being implemented. Next in the on-going Romanian Power Move series, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the nation’s rocky steps towards a “just” coal transition.
Weeks after agreeing to phase out coal, Bucharest struck a deal to convert an aging state-owned coal-fired power plant to burn locally-sourced “sustainable” biomass instead. But Romania’s forest-covered mountains are already suffering from illegal timber harvesting and biodiversity loss. Yet until this twist in the nation’s “decarbonization” plan, little biomass was burnt for electricity. Activists fear accelerated deforestation. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the development in his on-going Romanian Power Move series.
After committing to phase out coal by 2032, Romania has begun a sweeping energy transition. But it is off to a very rocky start. Though a key condition of their nearly €30 billion Recovery and Resilience Plan approved by the European Commission calls for the nation’s coal mines and coal burning power plants to shutter, what will replace them remains a cause of concern. During COP26 in Glasgow, Romania’s provisional government surprisingly inked a deal with the U.S. to construct a fleet of experimental nuclear units while partnering with a Norwegian company to convert an old coal plant to burn biomass instead – despite Romania already having a large problem with illegal timbering. But more than an economic issue, Romania’s energy transition requires a cultural shift as well as an influx of worker re-training programs. And now as energy costs rise, Bucharest is blaming several NGOs for higher prices. Read More
During COP26 in Glasgow, Romania’s caretaker government announced a surprise new partnership with the United States to develop a fleet of so-far unlicensed Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) to help replace it’s aging coal-fired infrastructure. The announcement builds upon the €8 billion deal the two nations signed over the summer of 2021 to refurbish one reactor at Romania’s only nuclear plant, while constructing two more on site. Michael Buchsbaum reviews Bucharest’s nuclear ambitions in this installment of the ongoing Romanian Power Move series.