IEA (2020), Moldova energy profile, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/moldova-energy-profile, License: CC BY 4.0
Although it possesses limited lignite, phosphorite and gypsum deposits, Moldova is considered relatively resource-poor due to its lack of important coal, gas or oil reserves.
The potential of renewable energy sources (RES), especially wind and solar, is not being fully exploited. Because of the country’s intensive agricultural activity, solid biomass is regarded as one of the most important sources of renewable energy, with the potential to be extensively exploited for energy production.
Moldova’s two largest rivers are the Dniester and the Prut, both of which rise in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine.
Energy security and diversification
Energy security in Moldova in 2019 was at acceptable levels despite the country’s exposure to gas supply shock risks. As Russia supplies all of Moldova’s gas via Ukraine, two major supply shocks occurred in 2006 and 2009 due to disputes between the two countries. In January 2009, 50 000 people were left without gas for several weeks, but the situation in January 2006 did not last as long (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-09-38_en.htm).
To reduce the risk of gas supply shocks, the government has decided to diversify its gas import sources. The newly built Iasi-Ungheni interconnector gas pipeline with Romania is expected to supply all of the country’s gas demand when operational in 2020, but not that of the Transnistrian region. As of early 2020, the pipeline serves only the small town of Ungheni; after extension, however, it will also service Chisinau. Gas imports from Russia are still expected to continue, but at smaller volumes.
Moldova has no gas storage facilities, but the government is considering two possible sites for geological storage in the Zagarancea-Mânzesti-Unghenii de Jos villages area and in the Cantemir district. No concrete decisions have been taken on these developments.
The only way to diversify power supply to Moldova is through developing the power transmission network. The asynchronous/synchronous interconnection projects of Moldova with the EU internal power market through new power lines and strengthened internal networks are essential, both for supply security and for the country’s social welfare. One of the first projects will be the southern asynchronous interconnection (Chisinau-Vulcanesti-Isaccea), to be constructed by the end of 2023.
The main results of implementing energy efficiency measures and using renewable energy sources that are closest in cost to conventional energy are also expected towards 2020.
Energy infrastructure and investment
The electricity network is made up of 400‑kilovolt (kV), 330‑kV, 110‑kV, 35‑kV, 6–10‑kV and 0.4‑kV lines. The power transmission system operator (TSO) SE Moldelectrica manages the internal electricity transmission network that comprises 4 700 kilometres (km) of transmission lines of 400 kV, 330 kV and 110 kV on the west side of the Dniester River, and dispatches another 1 746 km of Dnestrenergo transmission lines in the Transnistrian region (http://moldelectrica.md/ro/network/annual_report).
In all, the electricity distribution network is made up of 56 850 km of distribution lines supplying 1.3 million consumers; medium-voltage distribution lines are mainly radial type. High-voltage Interconnections with neighbouring countries include: 1 line of 400 kV with Romania (energised but not connected); 7 lines of 330 kV with Ukraine; 11 lines of 110 kV with Ukraine; and 3 lines of 110 kV with Romania (not connected).
Moldova’s power system operates in parallel with Ukraine’s (the Integrated Power System [IPS]/Unified Power System of Russia [UPS] grid), but it cannot currently operate in parallel with Romania’s network, which is part of ENTSO-E. Only small quantities of electricity can be exchanged between the two systems through an island-mode operation.
For Moldova to connect synchronously to ENTSO-E, the cross-border network with Romania will need to be extended by one 400‑kV interconnection (Suceava-Balti). In addition, generators, lines and substations will need to be rehabilitated and modernised because the power plants and network are old and inefficient and do not meet ENTSO-E technical requirements. Some rehabilitation of the network is ongoing, supported mainly by international financial institutions: the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the EC Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF).
Moldova’s electricity generation capacity on the west side of the Dniester River (i.e. excluding the Transnistria region) is approximately 350 megawatts (MW), 300 MW of which is produced by Termoelectrica SA (combined heat and power‑1 [CHP‑1] and CHP‑2 plants). New planned capacity includes a 250‑MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant in Chisinau and 150 MW of renewables-based generation, but as the government is unable to finance these projects, substantial private investment will be required for their development.
The district heating sector was restructured and the two operators merged in 2015, and the government successfully negotiated a USD 40‑million loan with the World Bank under the District Heating Efficiency Improvement Project for the rehabilitation of networks under a new district heating company in Chisinau (Termoelectrica). It also gained financing of EUR 10 million from the EBRD and the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership (E5P) fund for rehabilitation of CHP Nord (at Balti).
In 2019, natural gas transmission and distribution systems served almost 726 000 households and more than14 000 businesses through a total 24 600 km of pipelines, offering gas access to 60% of Moldova’s communities.
MoldovaGaz manages and partially owns the pipelines in Moldova west of the Dniester River, and its subsidiaries operate more than 98% of the distribution network.
Moldova is an important transit country for Russian natural gas, being on the route from Ukraine to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, with branches to Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia. The total length of Moldova’s three transit pipelines is 247 km (Moldovatransgaz) with a total capacity of 34.6 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y).
Another pipeline interconnection with Ukraine traverses Moldova in the north to connect two parts of the Ukrainian network. This pipeline, with a capacity of 9.1 bcm/y, is important to Moldova’s security of supply, as it connects to the storage facilities of Bogorodchany in Ukraine.
In practice, the capacity utilisation rate of all cross-border pipelines is only about 45% to 55%, meaning approximately 19 bcm/y of natural gas is transited through the southern route (in 2019 it deceased to 10 bcm/y) and 1 bcm/y through the northern one.
In August 2014, the Iasi-Ungheni gas pipeline from Romania was completed. It is 43 km long with a potential capacity of 1.5 bcm/y at a flat rate of 175 000 cubic metres per hour (m3/h). The pipeline runs 10 km on Moldovan territory and can currently be used only at very low capacity due to several technical constraints restricting the amount of natural gas that can be injected into the Moldovan natural gas transmission system from this interconnection; the availability of gas in Iasi is also limited. The government is making progress towards having the 120‑km extension of the pipeline to Chisinau completed by the end of 2020.
The Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure is responsible for energy supply emergency response. It monitors the supply–demand balance and plans for future demand increases; in cases of energy supply interruption, wholesale customers or large independent customers are expected to adjust their consumption to available supply.
Two laws, the Law on Natural Gas and the Law on Electricity, adopted by Parliament in May 2016, provide the principles and basic rules regulating the duties and behaviour of natural gas and electricity market participants in emergency situations. They also cover co‑ordination of activities in the natural gas and electricity sectors, as well as actions to be taken in case of natural gas and electricity supply disruptions.
Furthermore, these two laws require that the government adopt an emergency plan with accompanying action plan securing reliable and efficient gas and electricity supplies.
The Law on Commodity Reserves stipulates that the Material Reserves Agency keep 30 days’ worth of CHP consumption in oil stocks, based on the previous year’s consumption. CHP plants are also obligated to establish an emergency fuel (oil) reserve, though they can borrow fuel from the Material Reserves Agency. Technical specifications of thermal power stations require that they have fuel reserves for two weeks’ operation at full capacity.
In 2012, Moldova committed to Directive 2009/119/EC on maintaining minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products, legally binding the country to establish emergency oil stocks by 1 January 2023. To implement Directive 2009/119/EC on time, Moldova plans to transpose the Directive into its national legislation by December 2020.