Albania marked the start of construction of its section of the future electricity interconnection with North Macedonia. The project for the link between Fier to Bitola is worth just over EUR 70 million on its side.
Albania and North Macedonia are working on their first overhead 400 kV power line, which would enable market coupling and direct trade. Officials from the Council of Ministers in Tirana, ambassadors and representatives of Germany’s KfW Development Bank held a groundbreaking ceremony at the first transmission tower, at the Elbasan substation.
North Macedonia launched works on its side in 2021. The part in Albania is valued at EUR 70.1 million. KfW approved a EUR 50 million loan. The European Union’s Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) allocated a EUR 14 million loan, as well as another one, of EUR 1.1 million, together with German Development Cooperation.
Albania’s transmission system operator OST is participating with EUR 5 million in the investment. It is on the list of projects of Energy Community interest (PECIs).
Contractors waiting for three years
In Albania, the interconnection consists of the lines between Fier and Elbasan, including the extension and construction of substations on both ends, respectively, and between Elbasan and the Qafa Thana (Kafasan) mountain pass on the border. The country aims to become a net power exporter in 2030.
The high-voltage power link between Albania and North Macedonia will be part of an energy corridor from Bulgaria toward Italy
OST hired Joint Venture Mitas Energy and Doko as the contractor for the high-voltage link almost three years ago. It signed a deal with Greece-based Mytilineos for the substations in April 2021. The project is envisaged to boost Albania’s border transmission capacity to 1.5 GW.
Interconnection to help clean energy transition
“This is a strategic project for Albania, the region and the EU. We are fostering an open energy market and stronger regional cooperation to contribute to a unified European energy market and align with EU climate goals. The new transmission line helps the transition to clean energy, facilitating renewable energy transmission within and beyond Albania. The EU is providing more than EUR 125 million in grant support to Albania for various energy programs, all geared towards the energy transition. Energy will remain at the center of our cooperation with Albania”, EU Ambassador Silvio Gonzato stated.
In addition, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku said talks are underway with neighboring Greece to triple the cross-border transmission capacity. OST and its Italian counterpart Terna have set up a working group for an underwater interconnection, she added. They will conduct a feasibility study next year, according to Balluku.
The vice premier recalled that the European Commission approved a EUR 9.6 million grant earlier this month to Albania’s state-owned electricity producer KESH for its Belshi solar power project.