Albania pushes to develop energy sector

By bne IntelliNews September 27, 2012

bne -

Albania continued its push for greater investment into its energy sector on a busy September 26, as the EBRD announced a new loan to support renewable projects, Russian giant RusHydro paid a visit, and the government put the official stamp on a deal to build the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) gas transit project.

The EBRD announced it is supporting private sector investment in renewable energy generation in Albania with a €5.2m loan to the Hydro Power Plant of Korca to finance the construction of two small hydropower plants in the east of the country, ANSAmed reports. With the support of the EBRD loan, Hydro Power Plant of Korca will build two plants due to become operational next year. With a combined capacity of 5 MW, the two plants will generate up to 23 GWh of electricity per year and help offset over 17,400 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Meanwhile, Albanian state news agency ATA reported that Prime Minister Sali Berisha received an extended delegation of RusHydro, headed by Chairman Evgeny Dod. Albania generates almost all of its electricity from hydropower, and has attracted several foreign investors into the sector. However, Tirana is pushing to increase production and become a regional player in the energy market. Rehabilitation of the country's hydropower sector, improvement of energy efficiency, and dam safety have been earmarked as priorities.

The state-controlled RusHydro, the world's second-largest hydroelectric power producer, certainly has experience when it comes to safety issues. It is still recovering from the devastation caused by a 2009 disaster at the 6,400 MW Sayano-Shushenskaya station in Siberia which killed 75 and knocked out supply for huge swathes of Siberia.

Dod said that goal of the visit by the RusHydro delegation is to explore ways and propose major investments in hydroelectric power projects given Albania's huge hydro potential, its geographic position and the attractive business climate in the country.

The same day, the Albanian government also approved an intergovernmental agreement with Italy and Greece on construction of the TAP project, which will link the three countries and hopes to play a strategic role in the "southern corridor". The project is currently competing against Nabucco West for the right to carry gas produced by the giant Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan into Europe.

"Albania has the potential to become a powerful regional hub for the natural gas transmission to the Apennines, as well as to north of the Balkans. Albania will take the opportunity to use this gas pipeline to build a gasification network across the country and secure heating for its citizens at a low cost," Berisha said.

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