Europe’s Energy Crisis Deepens as Kosovo Rolls Out Power Cuts

(Bloomberg) — Europe is getting a taste of how bad this winter’s energy crisis could get as Kosovo starts cutting electricity supplies to most of its 2 million people.

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The Balkan country, one of Europe’s poorest nations, will introduce rolling two-hour blackouts for most consumers from Thursday, electricity distributor KEDS said in statement. The challenges come after Serbia was forced to cut electricity to some consumers two weeks ago and Britain’s network operator earlier this month issued its first supply warning of the winter.

Europe’s energy crunch is worsening as soaring gas and power prices force industries to curb output and trigger the collapse of suppliers. Jeremy Weir, chief executive officer of commodities trader Trafigura Group, last month warned that Europe could experience rolling blackouts in case of a cold winter.

That was before Electricite de France SA said it was halting reactors accounting for 10% of the nation’s nuclear capacity. Germany is also set to close almost half of its nuclear power capacity before the end of the year, putting further strain on European grids.

Kosovo’s power system is “overloaded,” according to utility KEDS, which called for “maximum energy savings.”

A unit malfunction at Kosovo’s main coal-fired power plant compounded the usual winter electricity shortages, requiring “extremely costly” imports, Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli told reporters in the capital Pristina last week. Local power production now covers less than a third of consumption, Gazeta Ezpress reported.

Power Imports

Four out of five units at the 800-megawatt lignite plant were operating, according to data from grid association Entso-E. Imports — from neighboring Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia — dropped from a peak above 750 megawatts on Wednesday to about 469 megawatt at 1 p.m. on Thursday, it said.

The cuts come after benchmark gas prices in Europe soared ahead of the winter season. Increasing global demand for coal has also pushed up prices of the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Consumers should use electricity in the most rational way given “insufficient internal generation to cover consumption and the global energy crisis,” Kosovo’s grid manager said in a statement.

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