Albania and region need to diversify renewable sources to have energy security, experts say

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 28, 2023 14:23

Albania and region need to diversify renewable sources to have energy security, experts say

Story Highlights

  • The event was part of a regional project funded by the Western Balkan Fund.

Related Articles

TIRANA, April 28, 2023 - Albania needs to diversify its investments in renewable energy beyond weather-dependent hydroelectric generation to ensure its energy security, according to experts at a forum organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies. 

The event, part of a project funded by the Western Balkan Fund to foster regional discussion, brought together various experts to discuss energy security issues facing Albania and the wider Western Balkan region.

Albania is unique in the region due to its heavy reliance on hydroelectric power generation for domestic and export needs, making it a renewable energy front-runner, but experts urged policymakers to further incentivize solar and wind generation to help the country cope with dry periods and move away from more fossil fuel use.

-Dealing with energy security in a changing world-

AIIS expert Ledion Kristafi discussed how the war in Ukraine had shifted the outlook on European energy with energy supply chains and strategies being revamped around the continent.

AIIS Chairman Albert Rakipi said "energy issues have become securitized in Albania and the region" following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and larger trends that have chipped away at a globalized world. 

This sentiment was echoed by other experts, who highlighted the importance of energy security in the region.

Genci Terpo of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative noted that many countries are shifting back to less environmentally-friendly energy sources in the short- to mid-term due to the Ukraine war impact on energy security, but that the crisis also provided an opportunity to leap forward to new technologies that allow countries to scale back fossil fuels and move toward renewable sources in the long term.

Arjan Dyrmishi of the Center for the Study of Democracy and Governance emphasized the need for better regulation to prevent overuse of resources and added that there was little discussion in Albania on sustainable use of fossil fuels and that policies were needed to encourage increasing efficiency in energy use through fiscal incentives such as to make buildings retrofitted to consume less energy.

Zef Preci of the Albanian Center for Economic Research stressed the need for diversification of resources and region-wide policies, stating that "without quitting globalism, we need to look at domestic and regional policies first to improve the situation." He also noted the importance of securing enough fossil fuel domestically and regionally while the global crisis persists.

-Solar and wind seen as way forward-

Meanwhile, Gjergji Gjinko, chairman of the Friends of Korca Association, emphasized the importance of community acceptance of energy production, citing nuclear and coal as examples of energy sources that are often not accepted by communities due to worries of environmental harm. 

He noted that small producers were the ones that brought true energy security for communities and that solar was the way forward, but not necessarily through commercial projects, which were less community-focused than small producers.

Corporate solar production will have a role to play, however, as experts also mentioned Voltalia’s project, which is building a massive solar energy plant in central Albania. 

Albania is following the wider European trend of moving towards renewable sources, but solar power is expected to be more dependable than hydro, the experts said, as the country features 300 days of sunshine.

Albania is among 47 top countries making its legislation very friendly to the energy transition and offering businesses a good way to invest in this area. 

In fact, 70 applications have been made to the ministry to construct wind power generation, with three already approved, according to Mr. Terpo.

-Civil society can play key role-

In addition to its hosts in Albania, the forum was attended by representatives from Kosovo and North Macedonia, as the project is implemented by partner organizations in the three countries and aims to foster regional cooperation and discussion on energy and other important issues.

Civil society and regional cooperation have a big role to play, said Valbona Dedja, a project manager at the Western Balkan Fund, noting an increase in applications related to regional cooperation. 

EITI’s Mr. Terpo stressed the importance of civil society organizations paying attention to energy access, stating that "access to energy is a basic right and the state needs to guarantee this right." 

The experts at the event agreed that energy security in Albania and the wider region is of utmost importance and that investing in renewable sources is the way forward. 


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 28, 2023 14:23