RIT to assist Kosovo in coal-energy harvesting
In the coming months, Kosovo will have its constitutional status determined by the United Nations. Most experts believe Kosovo will be granted its permanent sovereignty. The bigger question hovering over the former war-torn region is its ability to sustain a strong economy.
That’s where RIT, American University in Kosovo and its Center for Energy and Natural Resources hope to make an impact.
“The biggest single challenge after Kosovo’s independence is its economy,” says Jim Myers, director of RIT’s Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, which collaborates with the American University in Kosovo Foundation to operate AUK. “The biggest opportunity Kosovo has is the development of its energy resources.”
The RIT/AUK Center for Energy and Natural Resources was established this spring after RIT received a $400,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development’s Higher Education Collaborative Partnership Program. It hopes to take advantage of Kosovo’s abundant supply of lignite coal, which is one of the largest deposits in all of Europe, and position it to play a role in supplying energy to the rest of its region.
The other advantage Myers and the energy center hope to benefit from is Kosovo’s youthful population. Sixty-percent of its population is under the age of 25.
Dafina Gashi, an AUK student who spent this past summer conducting energy research with the New York state energy industry and RIT, says she feels compelled to assist in the development of Kosovo’s economy.
“It’s really important work,” Gashi says. “I want to contribute to Kosovo and see it prosper. Energy supply is a huge problem. We have power cuts all the time. The power will just suddenly go off.”
Gashi spent the summer in New York conducting research that will lead to a white paper on current carbon dioxide trading emissions programs and lessons learned for Kosovo’s energy development, which will ultimately need to meet European union standards. Before returning home, Gashi presented her research at the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference in Chicago.
“This co-op provided Dafina with the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge in energy policy and alternative technologies so that she can return home and share that knowledge,” says Lyndsey McGrath, the project coordinator for AUK’s Center for Energy and Natural Resources. “Dafina’s knowledge will help Kosovo’s energy sector development and technology transfer.”