Balluku: Albania Aims to Become Net Electricity Exporter By 2030, Plans Solar Power Auction This Year

Albania aims to become an energy leader in the region and a net power exporter by 2030, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku said in her annual address. In her words, 200 MW will be awarded the upcoming wind power auction while a 200 MW auction will be held by the end of the year for solar power.

Albania has seen difficult times since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and it had to stop all investments in electricity distribution system operator OSHEE, as the entire budget for last year was dedicated to protecting citizens, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku said. She claimed the situation this year is much more favorable than in 2022.

The start of construction of the Skavica hydropower plant is scheduled for November

The country aims to become an energy leader in the region and a net power exporter by 2030, Balluku told reporters at her annual press conference. She said the construction of the Skavica hydropower plant would begin in November, which means the date has been pushed back by several months.

The deputy prime minister estimated the project would cost EUR 500 million and added that it would be completed within five years. Skavica’s expected output is equivalent to 20% of current domestic electricity production, Balluku pointed out.

Floating oil-fired power plants are still idle

The country is almost 100% dependent on hydropower plants as it still has no wind farms while solar power deployment is relatively slow. It can’t yet meet domestic demand, so droughts and the energy crisis of the past year and a half have devastated state finances because imports were extremely expensive.

Government-owned electricity producer KESH took two floating oil-fired power plants under lease last year, but the start of operations has been delayed.

Private companies increasingly eager to build power plants without state aid

Albania is preparing its first wind power auction. Several major international companies have qualified for sending a bid. One or more competitors will get power purchase contracts for 200 MW in total for facilities that they build, Balluku said, as quoted by ATA. In the original public call, the quota was 100 MW with a possibility to increase it to 150 MW.

The energy minister revealed that a solar power auction is planned to be held by the end of the year, also for 200 MW, under the same model. The previous two auctions were for two particular sites and Voltalia from France won both of them.

The government has approved seven power plant projects in the past year, with a total capacity of 300 MW and worth a combined EUR 180 million

Balluku pointed to the increase in interest from private companies for building power plants without subsidies or a state-guaranteed fixed price. The government has approved seven projects in the past year, with a total capacity of 300 MW and worth a combined EUR 180 million, the minister stressed. “Until yesterday money was taken from the state for the private sector. Now the opposite is happening,” she asserted.

Furthermore, 55 projects are waiting for approval from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, Balluku said. The overall capacity is 1.7 GW and they are valued at EUR 1.1 billion altogether, in her words.

First natural gas networks in Albania to be built in Korça, Fier

Albania is starting a gasification project in 2023. Balluku said Korça would be the first city to get a gas network, followed by Fier. They were picked due to their proximity to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), she underscored.

Turning to the program for solar collectors for households, Balluku said 1,040 units have been already installed in the scheme for 2,000 users from the first round. This year the government earmarked EUR 8 million in subsidies for the purpose, so it can cover 20,000 beneficiaries, she added. “We will find other ways to support families,” the deputy prime minister stated.

(balkangreenenergynews.com, January 11, 2023)

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