Despite drought, World Bank sees role for more Albania hydro

The World Bank’s country manager for Albania says additional hydropower has a role in Albania’s energy future, despite a serious drought that spurred blackouts in the Balkan nation.

Country Manager Nadir Mohammed met with local news media, outlining the World Bank’s position on the electricity crisis in Albania, which gets 97 percent of its electricity from hydropower. Meteorologists say only a third of the average rain fell in Albania from September to December, capping the worst dry spell since 1915.

Mohammed said Albania obviously is stricken by drought, which he called a short-term problem that must be addressed by completion of thermal generation. However, in the medium and long terms — beyond the drought problem — Albania still only produces about half the power it needs.

To serve medium and long-term needs, Mohammed said Albania needs to: restructure its power sector to encourage more private investment; build transmission facilities to allow power imports from its neighbors; reduce the amount of lost and stolen electricity, currently totaling about two-thirds of generation; and build more capacity, including additional hydropower. (HNN 6/21/06)

Mohammed said Albania still has undeveloped hydro potential and that the government must move quickly to implement a concession law to attract more foreign direct investment in thermal and hydro generation.

�You need to put in place a good system to attract foreign investments in thermal power plants and the government could also move quickly on the mini-hydros,� he said. �Good progress has been made by the government team who is working on this issue. So we expect Council of Ministers approval and subsequent Parliament approval of this new system.�

The bank official said mini-hydropower plants are small and will not resolve Albania’s problems. However, he said, collectively they can provide an important source of energy.

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