Lekursi Castle, Albania. Image by USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay

A new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that Albania could improve its energy security and reduce energy system vulnerability to climate impacts, by deploying its vast solar and wind resources.

A full exploration of the county’s renewable energy potential will also offer important socio-economic benefits, including job creation, new income streams, local industrial development, and reduced air pollution, as per the report.

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While Albania’s vast hydropower resources mean it has one of the highest shares of renewable energy in South-East Europe, it is also highly dependent on annual rainfall – resulting in high vulnerability to climatic externalities. In 2017, the country was forced to import nearly 40% of its power due to low rainfall, at a cost of $240 million.

Diversifying the energy mix will mitigate Albania’s exposure to external factors and build stability.

Well-assessed resource potential and timely planning for variable renewable power generation and grid infrastructure can minimise technical disturbances to the grid and increase the quality of energy supply while ensuring economic viability for the power producer, the system operators and the final consumers.

Report findings

Some of the findings in the report, including:

  • Albania has some of Europe’s highest sunshine hours per year
  • Cost-effective solar and wind potential is estimated at more than 7GW
  • Around 616MW of this wind energy is deployable by 2030
  • Proactive planning can play a crucial role in the development of a robust energy sector

Recommendations

The report calls for existing support mechanisms for renewable energy deployment to be further strengthened, approval processes to be streamlined, and the establishment of a dedicated renewable energy agency to inform the co-ordinated development of renewables in line with national and international obligations.

Critical actions such as refurbishing existing distribution networks, allowing for bidirectional electricity flow and incorporating more renewable energy in end-use sectors such as transport, and heating and cooling, were also identified by the report.

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“The Government of Albania recognises the key role of the energy sector in its economic development,” said H.E. Belinda Balluku, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Republic of Albania. “Albania is therefore giving new impetus to energy reforms while consolidating existing efforts to provide enabling conditions for renewable energy development and comply with regional and international commitments. IRENA’s recommendations are highly significant in this process.”

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera, said: “This report shows that Albania, like many countries, can realise this opportunity. By diversifying their energy mix and integrating more of their variable renewable resources, Albania can create a more stable and resilient energy system, while stimulating positive social and economic outcomes and meeting its climate obligations”.

Download the full report.