Romania has significant energy resources, including natural gas, oil and coal. Almost 80% of the energy demand is covered by domestic resources. Current oil reserves are estimated at 82 million tons, with an annual production of about 4 million tons; natural gas reserves are estimated at 109 billion m3, with an annual production of about 11 billion m3. In October 2012, in the town of Brazi, a new gas power plant with a capacity of 860 MW was opened.
Lignite resources in Romania are estimated at less than 3 billion tons. At the end of 2010, the share of coal in electricity production was 33% – over 80% was lignite. The rest of the electricity was produced in hydroelectric power plants (36%), a nuclear power plant (19%), gas power plants (10%) and others (2%).
According to the National Agency for Mineral Resources, Romania has 197 lignite mining centers. Currently, only 44 are operating and 153 centers have been shut. 95% of lignite is extracted in opencast mines and only 5% in underground mines. It is planned that by 2016, all underground mines will be closed.
The biggest lignite mining center is CE Oltenia, the leader on the Romanian market, with a 95% share in the total production of energy from lignite. Lignite deposits spread from the Oltenia region, along the south Carpathians, to Ploesti.
For 3 years, the Romanian government has been creating a strategy for energy policy, which is not yet complete. However, according to EU law, an energy policy framework has been established. It regulates the production of gas, hard coal, brown coal, oil and nuclear energy, as well as the modernization of power plants. Romania has also adopted the directive 2001/80/EC in regard to large combustion plants. There were 174 large combustion plants identified , of which 78 will have to comply with more stringent environmental requirements until 2017.
Electricity produced in Romania from renewable sources has increased over the last five years and now represents 23% of installed capacity. Hydroelectric power stations have the largest share. Most subsidies go to large companies, mainly to wind farms. In 2013, the government withdrew most of the green certificates which supported the production of energy from renewable sources. This year, a new law on distributed energy – which will fix the level of feed-in tariffs – was adopted. The new law will come into force by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.
Opencast lignite mines and power plants
The biggest energy complex, CE Oltenia ,was created based on a government decision and was created by the following establishments: Societatea Nationala lignitului Oltenia (Oltenia National Company of Lignite), CE Turceni (Turceni Energetic Complex), CE Rovinari (Rovinari Energetic Complex) and CE Craiova (Craiova Energy Complex). The main owner of CE Oltenia is the Ministry of the Economy. The complex specializes in lignite extraction and the production of electricity and heat. CE Oltenia has 13 power units with a total capacity of 3,900 MW, 17 opencast lignite mines and two underground mines.
The company plans to expand its lignite production in the Rovinari Complex.
Due to a decrease of electricity consumption since the economic crisis, and a high growth of renewable energy potential in recent years in Romania, the CE Oltenia company (which has the Rovinari complex) is having difficulty selling its coal. Due to these circumstances, the company is demanding more support from the state, including special treatment on the market (priority and guaranteed access to the grid) and payment for the expropriation process.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has suspended plans to fund the renovation of the Turceni coal power plant. The project, however, is still the subject of many legal problems related to environmental protection. The Romanian authorities are also carrying out an investigation on corruption in the power plant.