Three people were killed and 14 injured following an explosion caused by a faulty hydrogen tank at Kosovo’s second largest power plant.

The accident occurred on Friday at the 449 MW coal-fired A Plant provides more than 30 per cent of the country’s electricity.

The 40-year-old plant, located 10km outside capital Pristina, has been shut down. Economy Minister Fadil Ismajli, whose ministry covers the energy sector, told Reuters that the blast occurred in the electrolysis unit, not the generators.
Kosovo A
Hydrogen cooling has been used for decades as a more efficient and less expensive alternative to air cooling. However, safety systems must be intensive due to the high flammability and explosive tendency of hydrogen, as evident in the Kosovo incident.

The explosion threatened electricity supplies in a country already plagued by blackouts. Power imports were increased to cover demand.

“Until now we have three confirmed dead and many injured,” Derat Rukiqi, the chairman of plant’s management board told AFP.

The damage to the Yugoslav-era plant will severely impact the country’s electricity as it still suffers chronic power shortages 15 years after the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Kosovo’s energy distribution and supply company, KEDS, said it had imported 250 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to cover demand. Spokesman Guri Shkodra told Reuters it was unclear when the plant would be back online.

Albania’s energy ministry said it has started sending 50 MW of electricity out of 200 MW per day demanded by Kosovo to help it cope with shortages.

It said Albania’s power utility KESH and power distributor OST and their counterparts in Kosovo were trying secure interconnection capacities to meet the need for the requested power. Kosovo is connected to Albania via a 220 kV line. Work is under way to build a more powerful 400 kV line.

As recently as last year, international donors pledged $209.67m to help close down Kosovo A, improve energy efficiency and diversify energy sources in the landlocked Balkan country, one of Europe’s poorest.

The European Commission says the cost to decommission the plant, which produces a quarter of electricity consumed in Kosovo, is seen at 60 million euros, and that the commission is ready to ask member states to fund the project.

The World Bank, which has generally stopped financing coal-fired power stations, has made an exemption in the case of Kosovo due to its enormous lignite resources and poor financial situation. The country sits on the world’s fifth largest lignite coal reserve.

For more coal-fired power generation news