A leap forward for green heating and energy in Kosovo

Heating And Energy In Gjakova, Kosovo (Banner)

Gjakova benefits from sustainable, reliable and good energy management, contributing to better environmental conditions.

Efforts are being made in Kosovo to improve its public energy sector, which at present meets only a small portion of the total demand. The city of Gjakova, in particular, has made great progress toward providing effective and sustainable heating, and stands as a model for the region.

December 20, 2022
  • SDG: #7, #9
  • SECTORS: Development Consulting
  • COUNTRIES: Kosovo
  • DONOR: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)

Winter in Gjakova is a picturesque affair. From a high vantage point, one can see snow coating the roofs and treetops, while in the distance rise the twin spires of the Saint Paul and Saint Peter Church, the tallest landmark in the area. But with winter comes cold and an increased demand for heating.

Gjakova is the seventh largest city in Kosovo with just over 40,000 inhabitants. For over 40 years, a large part of its heating needs have been served by a district heating system that was designed to operate on fossil fuels imported mostly from neighbouring Albania. Aside from being expensive, it was a major source of environmental pollution. And because it was so old, many parts are now close to the end of their technical lifetime, resulting in high inefficiencies, particularly losses in water and heat throughout the system.

All that has changed, however, in October 2021 with the opening of a newly built heating plant that runs on biomass sourced from around the area. Most of this comes in the form of wood waste from carpentry shops and the local lumber industry.

The plant, which is the first of its kind in the Balkans region, is a combined heating and power (CHP) system, and replaces the old oil-based system to provide heat and a limited supply of electricity for the population of Gjakova and its surrounding district.

Improving the district heating sector in Kosovo

Kosovo’s district heating sector remains fairly small at the national level, with limited coverage to few cities, meeting approximately 3-5% of total heating demand in the country. The four utility firms include District Heating Company Termokos - Prishtina, District Heating Company Gjakova - Gjakova, District Heating Company Termomit - Mitrovica, and Zvecan. In 2014, the National Energy Strategy outlined the further development of the district heating sector as one of its main strategic objectives. In recent years, DH Gjakova has been developing two very important projects that have a huge impact in improving supply of customers with heat and for improving operations and financial sustainability of the company.

The construction of the new biomass CHP plant is one of these projects. In addition, the district heating system also underwent major rehabilitation with new, more efficient pre-insulated pipes and control equipment throughout the network. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) funded this rehabilitation, which NIRAS has been managing along with and other relevant tasks under the “Improving the District Heating in Gjakova” project since November 2020.

To this end, NIRAS has deployed 16 experts to manage the implementation of the project at all levels and handle a variety of tasks, from developing a procurement plan and contracting strategy to managing contracts and overseeing the work and equipment for all necessary tasks.


tCO2eq of greenhouse gas emissions reduced

5 %

increase in customer satisfaction compared to 2019

Good results all around

NIRAS's involvement in the project has just reached its second year, with significant positive outcomes.

First, Gjakova’s population and private sector are benefitting from sustainable, reliable, and good energy management, which has contributed to better environmental conditions.

The project has also resulted in better indoor environments in several public facilities. One of these is the regional hospital Isa Grezda, where the availability of 24/7 heat and hot water supply has improved the experience of patients and staff, with interviews reporting a 100% satisfaction rate.

Overall the rehabilitation project has increased energy efficiency of the network and cut energy losses throughout the DH network, by improving the capacities of DH Gjakova. The management has developed competencies in corporate development and business planning, and the organisational structure has been streamlined according to the requirements of a modern, efficiently operating company.

The NIRAS team will continue to supervise work on improving the DH network. For example, a new SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system is being installed. This is a system that connects the sensors that monitor equipment like motors, pumps, and valves to an onsite or remote server for easier supervision. NIRAS will prepare tender documents and manage the tendering and contract negotiation process. Once a provider is selected, the team will supervise the SCADA installation and train staff on its use.

Further capacity building in all core and auxiliary aspects of managing the DH system will continue. One of the upcoming tasks is training for the metering and marketing campaign, and another is the use of a new accounting system. Training is also being conducted on the operations of the biomass CHP plant.

A warm future for the region

The establishment of the new plant, as well as the rehabilitation of the DH network and the company managing it, is a huge win for sustainability in the region. It has brought about not only great environmental benefits but also better economic outcomes and improved welfare. The plant is expected to operate at full capacity in the coming winter, providing much-needed and much better heat for the residents of Gjakova.

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Per Diget

Per Diget

Head of Department

Odense, Denmark

+45 6312 5042

Ivana Radulovic

Ivana Radulovic

Project/Tender Manager

Belgrade, Serbia