Albania facing the need for new energy sources

In Albania, the declaration of emergency in the energy sector two years ago and the energy crisis in Europe, caused by the Russian aggression in Ukraine, have stimulated the need to use new energy sources.

The energy expert, Gjergj Simaku, says that energy is rapidly coming to the forefront of government agendas, but also of citizens. Albania has supported the production of energy from hydropower plants, mainly those located in the Drin cascade, which means that the security of energy production is dependent on rainfall and the impact of climate change.

“The situation every year is on a curve that decreases energy production in the summer and increases a lot in the rainy season. And this is logical. Sometimes it is high, when the year is wet, and sometimes it is very low. But, on average, we manage to provide at least 80% of the needs. At the moment when the rains appear, we produce and the hydropower plants are emptied due to the increase in consumption”, says the energy expert, Gjergj Simaku.

This, says the expert Simaku, has caused Albania to be exposed almost every year to the import of energy during the summer period, when energy prices in the regional and international markets are higher.

According to INSTAT data, last year the production of electricity recorded a decrease of 21.9% compared to the previous year, while the gross import of energy increased by 35.1%. In these conditions, it is necessary to quickly diversify energy sources to cover the local energy consumption not only from water sources, but also from renewable energy benefited from the sun and wind.

“Photovoltaic systems must have a production equal to hydrological ones so that Albania, in a continuous manner, has energy and increases the security of energy supply. If we had installed at least 3 GW, or 3 thousand MW of photovoltaic power plants, no matter how small or large they are, we would be in extremely good conditions today”, says the energy expert, Gjergj Simaku.

According to INSTAT, in Albania only 0.7% of the net electricity production was produced in 2022 by photovoltaic plants, this indicator is still quite low. Photovoltaic systems, according to expert Simaku, should have an output equal to that produced by large and small hydropower plants, in order to increase the security of production and year-round energy supply.

For the head of the Environmental Resource Center, Mihallaq Qirjo, the need to diversify energy sources and adapt to EU directives is part of the legal improvements in the draft law “On promoting the use of energy from renewable sources”.

“The country, these days, is going through some important legal adjustments. The draft law on the production of renewable energies is under discussion. It has not yet passed the parliament, but it is under public discussion. Also, last year there were a series of economic support initiatives for actors who are interested in installing solar panels, because they are energy that not only pollutes the environment less, but also brings economic benefits”, says the head of the Environmental Resource Center, Mihallaq Candle.

In an effort to boost energy production from photovoltaic plants, the Energy Efficiency Agency is supporting 2,000 households with 70% of the cost of installing solar water heating plants. Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Energy, in 2022, 7 photovoltaic projects have been approved in the private energy sector, while another 55 are under treatment. The Energy Regulatory Body has announced that, by 2030, Albania aims to meet 30 percent of the needs from photovoltaic plants, an objective that is difficult to achieve.

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