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Serbia-Kosovo electricity row is sapping the European grid, and causing some clocks to run six minutes slow

Electric clocks that rely on the frequency of the power supply have fallen victim to ‘political disagreements’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 10:22pm

European power operators called Wednesday for an end to a row between Serbia and Kosovo that has sapped the continent’s electricity grid and caused some electric clocks to run several minutes late.

The Brussels-based power operators association ENTSO-E said “political disagreements” between the Balkan neighbours have caused a decrease in the electric frequency in the continental network since mid-January.

“The decrease in frequency average is affecting also those electric clocks that are steered by the frequency of the power system and not by a quartz crystal,” it said in a statement, referring to synchronous electric clocks that are regulated by the number of cycles of an alternating current.

Such clocks for radio alarms, ovens and heating systems, it said, “show a delay of close to six minutes” in European countries, including Belgium.

The political disagreements opposing the Serbian and Kosovar authorities have led to the observed electricity impact
European power supply association ENTSO-E

“ENTSO-E is urging European and national governments and policymakers to take swift action,” it said. “The political disagreements opposing the Serbian and Kosovar authorities have led to the observed electricity impact.”

Kosovo energy expert Agron Dida said that Serbia has prevented Kosovo, whose decade-old independence it refuses to recognise, from importing the cheaper energy it needs from neighbouring Albania.

“Serbia blackmails the optimisation of the regional energy system,” Dida said. “It is possible that this creates problems and affects negatively the whole electricity network in Europe.”

Serbia’s electrical power grid company EMS AD blamed the missing power on Kosovo “uninterruptedly withdrawing, in an unauthorised manner, uncontracted electric energy” from the synchronised European grid.

EMS AD, which is tasked with balancing the Kosovo grid, said it “has committed all its resources to resolving this issue in a swift and efficient manner.”

The statement added that Kosovo operator KOSTT had “ceased, as of March 3, its unauthorised power withdrawal.”

Aca Markovic, special adviser for the Energy Agency of Serbia, said that EMS AD had covered Kosovo’s energy needs for a while but had to stop because of the costs and its breach of rules.

Serbia has refused to recognise its former breakaway province since it declared independence in 2008. Both are seeking to join the European Union.