European clocks lose time due to Kosovo-Serbia row

Balkan states urged to resolve power grid dispute that is affecting Europe network

 Serbia and Kosovo have been urged to resolve a dispute over their power grid that has  caused some digital clocks in Europe to lose time.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Serbia and Kosovo have been urged to resolve a dispute over their power grid that has caused some digital clocks in Europe to lose time. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

European power grid lobby Entso-e has urged Serbia and Kosovo to resolve a dispute over their power grid that has affected the broader European network, causing some digital clocks on the continent to lose time.

The grid shared by Serbia and its former province Kosovo is connected to Europe’s synchronised high-voltage power network.

Entso-e, which represents European electricity transmission operators, said the continental network had lost 113GWh of energy since mid-January because Kosovo had been using more electricity than it generates. Serbia, which is responsible for balancing Kosovo’s grid, had failed to do so, Entso-e said.

The loss of energy had caused electric clocks that are steered by the frequency of the power system, rather than by a quartz crystal, to lag nearly six minutes behind, Entso-e said.

Many digital clocks, such as those in alarm clocks and in ovens and microwaves, use the frequency of the power grid to keep time. Problems emerge when the frequency drops over a sustained period of time.

Entso-e said the European network’s frequency had deviated from its standard of 50Hz to 49.996Hz since mid-January, resulting in 113GWh of lost energy, although it had appeared to be returning to normal on Tuesday.

“Deviation stopped yesterday after Kosovo took some steps but it will take some time to get the system back to normal,” Entso-e spokeswoman Susanne Nies told Reuters. She said the risk could remain if there was no political solution to the problem.

The political dispute centres mainly on regulatory issues and grid operation. It is further complicated by the fact that Belgrade still does not recognise Kosovo.

“We will try to fix the technicalities by the end of this week but the question of who will compensate for this loss has to be answered,” Ms Nies said.

Swift action

Entso-e urged European governments to take swift action and exert pressure on Kosovo and Serbia to resolve the issue, which is also hampering the integration of the western Balkans energy market required by the EU.

“These actions need to address the political side of this issue,” Entso-e said in a statement.

Serbian grid operator EMS said in a statement that it had committed all its resources to resolving this issue “in a swift and efficient manner”. Kosovo’s grid operator, Kostt, could not be reached for comment.

Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008. Both states want to join the EU but Brussels says they must normalise relations if they want to forge closer ties with the bloc.

Serbia and Kosovo signed an agreement on operating their power grid in 2015.

However, the deal has not been implemented yet as they cannot agree on power distribution in Kosovo amid conflicting claims about ownership of the grid, which was built when they were both part of Yugoslavia. – Reuters