Hydropower Plant on the River Komarnica, Montenegro

The project of construction of HPP on the river Komarnica has faced opposition by the NGOs and it is currently stopped due to the potential geological problems. However, it remains considered of strategic importance by the Montenegrin government.

The construction of HPP "Komarnica" was first mentioned in 1972, followed with additional studies of energy use in the basin of the river Komarnica, tributary of the bigger Montenegrin River Piva, in the mid-eighties. The HPP Komarnica is planned as as peak hydro power plant, with the dam at the end of slowing down of the existing accumulation of HPP Piva. In 2012, the Montenegrin government adopted a draft detailed plan for a multipurpose accumulation on the river Komarnica as a part of “The Energy Development Strategy of Montenegro by 2025” (EDS 2025), and some preparatory work has started (galleries and boreholes at both coasts of the river). The Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism assured that construction of the HPP would not affect the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area, and would instead help development of local communities and ensure a reliable source of clean energy. The local government had a different opinion on the project; therefore the authority of Municipality Plužine supported the idea of the HPP, while the nearby Municipality Šavnik, the poorest municipality in the country, was in disapproval. Montenegrin NGOs pointed out the negative impacts that dams have on the environment, particularly as the Detailed Spatial plan for multipurpose reservoirs on the River Komarnica includes the construction of another 17 dams which implies flooding of a vast area of unique landscape, loss species of national and international importance, as well as relocation of 1,030 local people. As further possible problems NGOs mentioned fog, land erosion and landslides. Besides, canyon of the Komarnica River belongs to the EMERALD international ecological network of protected areas. The NGOs promoted changes of the Law on National Parks to expand area of the National Park Durmitor (UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1980) to include the Komarnica canyon together with its particularly important part Nevidio (Never seen) a natural monument of exceptional natural and tourist value (canyoning), and often referred to as the last unexplored place in Europe. The environmental problem caused by the HPP could have an international dimension and cross-border consequences, as Komarnica canyon belongs to the Black Sea basin. The NGOs stressed that the out-of-date technical study for HPP Komarnica from 1988 was still in use, and called on the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism to first pursue adoption of the Strategic environmental impact assessment for EDS 2025, as an overarching document that includes HPP Komarnica as one of the planned projects. In June 2012, NGO Green Home held a roundtable on "Strategic environmental assessment for multipurpose accumulations on the River Komarnica" attended by government representatives. The NGO put forward their suggestions after which it was agreed by the government to do better qualitative assessment of the impact of the planned project on the environment and development of the area. In August 2013, the project of HPP Komarnica was stopped due to the potential geological problems, as informed by the Montenegrin Electric Enterprise-EPCG. Due to this problem, potential foreign investors, including Sinohydro Corporation Limited from China as the most interested among them, have cancelled submission of their offers until the results of the geological exploration works is published. In October 2015, the Government of Montenegro signed memorandum of cooperation with Chinese company "Norinco International" as well as a document with the government of Slovenia and Turkey related to the construction of HPP in Montenegro including HPP Komarnica.  In addition, a draft of “Action Plan for Implementation of Energy Development Strategy- Montenegro until 2013 for the period 2016-2020” states that the construction of HPP Komarnica is planned to start in 2016.  
Basic Data
NameHydropower Plant on the River Komarnica, Montenegro
SiteŠavnik and Plužine
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Area under the HPP impact 8.800 ha.
See more...
Project Area (in hectares)9,000
Level of Investment (in USD)240,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationUp to 10.000
Start Date04/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesElektroprojekt from Slovenia - Author of the technical study for HPP Komarnica from 1988
Sinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China - Potential investor
Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG) from Montenegro - Project leader
NORINCO International Cooperation Ltd. (NORINCO International ) from China - Interested in HPP Komarnica
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, The Ministry of Economy of Montenegro, The Environment Protection Agency of Montenegro, University of Montenegro, The Institute for Nature Conservation of Montenegro; The government of Slovenia; The government of Turkey
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNGO Ozon, NGO Green Home,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesRepresentatives of NGOs are aware of the energy deficit in Montenegro and are not against the construction of hydro power facilities, namely they criticized the old EIA for not including proposal of alternative solution except for stopping the project. NGOs require respect of international standards and domestic legislation in the process of the HPP Komarnica planning and construction.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project is temporarily stopped, due to a serious problem with the geology of terrain where the dam was planned, and accordingly withdrawal of the offers by potential investors, until the result of the geological investigation are known. After the round table organised by NGOs it is agreed to do a new impact assessment study on the potential impact of the Komarnica HPP on the environment and future development of the area. The Chinese company "Norinco International" and the governments of Slovenia and Turkey demonstrated interest in cooperating with the government of Montenegro on the HPP construction projects, including the one on the Komarnica River. In addition, according to a draft of “Action Plan for Implementation of Energy Development Strategy- Montenegro until 2013 for the period 2016-2020”, start on construction of the HPP Komarnica was planned for 2016.
Sources and Materials

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]


Nikšić: Poplave zbog izgradnje hidroelektrane?
[click to view]

Šavnik: Izgradnja HE Komarnica ne smije ugroziti prirodne ljepote
[click to view]

Predmet: Javna rasprava za DPP i SEA za HE Komarnica
[click to view]

Press Relase for HPP on Komarnica River
[click to view]

Roundtable: Evaluation of strategic environment assessment for multipurpose accumulations on the River Komarnica
[click to view]

Stali projekti velikih HE: Za Moraču niko ne pita, za HE na Komarnici problem geologija
[click to view]

Predrag Sekulić: HE Komarnica bi koštala 180 miliona eura
[click to view]

Izgradnja HE Komarnica ne sme ugroziti prirodne lepote
[click to view]

Šavnik: U jezeru pliva profit
[click to view]

[click to view]

Montenegro: Large hydrological projects stopped due to the lack of investors interest
[click to view]

Green Home: Komarnica i kanjon Nevidio da budu dio NP Durmitor
[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

Kineski Norinco zainteresovan da gradi elektrane na Morači i Komarnici
[click to view]

Plan za gradnju hidrocentrala u Crnoj Gori
[click to view]

Potpisan Memorandum o razumijevanju između Vlade Crne Gore i NORINCO International Coorporation Ltd
[click to view]

Green home: Prijedlog o izgradnji HE Morača i Komarnica krši postulate zaštite javnog interesa
[click to view]

Media Links

[click to view]

Other Documents

Canyoning in Nevidio Natural beauties of Komarnica canyon and their touristic potential are threaten under current project plan of HPP Komarncia
[click to view]

Roundable on HPP Komarncia Roundtable "Evaluation of strategic environment assessment for multipurpose accumulations on the River Komarnica" organised by NGO Ozon
[click to view]

Informacija o aktivnostima na pripremi Akcionog plana za sprovođenje Strategije razvoja energetike Crne Gore do 2030. godine, za period 2016 – 2020 godina Describes the process of preparation of the Action Plan for Implementation of Energy Development Strategy- Montenegro until 2013 for the period 2016-2020
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update11/07/2016