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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Mapping low-conflict zones for renewable energy growth in Montenegro

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Renewable energy potential in Montenegro is undeniable, evidenced by investor interest. In just the municipality of Nikšić, urban-technical conditions have been issued for the construction of 42 solar power plant sites, totaling around 7,000 MW of installed capacity. Investing in renewables is a key way for countries to contribute to global climate change mitigation efforts.

However, the increased development of renewable energy infrastructure creates a significant demand for land, potentially leading to conflicts between energy policy and environmental preservation. To address this, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Eko-tim and The Nature Conservancy have initiated a project aimed at identifying and mapping low-conflict sites for solar and wind farms.

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Diana Milev Čavor from NGO Eko-tim highlights the growing impact of climate change worldwide, urging countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming. She emphasizes the urgency of biodiversity conservation amid alarming rates of species loss, further exacerbated by climate change.

Investors often base renewable energy projects solely on spatial plans focusing on wind or solar potential, overlooking ecological and social factors. Assessing potential ecological or social conflicts can mitigate project risks, reducing delays and cancellations. The project by Eko-tim and The Nature Conservancy aims to develop scenarios for low-conflict renewable energy sites by identifying areas with minimal ecological and social conflict. This involves energy mapping, considering environmental, biodiversity, and social/cultural elements.

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Nikšić was chosen as a pilot area due to its size, representing a comprehensive case study for analyzing conflicts and compromises related to renewable energy development. The goal is to create a methodology applicable at the national level. Results show significant potential for both wind and solar energy, with estimated capacities capable of covering substantial portions of residential energy consumption.

The project demonstrates the necessity of smart positioning to avoid environmental and social impacts. Future steps involve expanding the methodology to the national level, with support from institutions like the Ministry of Energy and Mining. Collaboration between NGOs and government entities will be crucial in advancing renewable energy development while preserving biodiversity and minimizing social conflicts.

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