The Fierza hydropower plant in Albania, run by state-owned electricity producer KESH, is set to be upgraded to boost output by at least 10%. The EUR 50 million project is part of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
The second-biggest hydropower plant in Albania is about to extend its life by at least 30 years. The Fierza facility, which was built in 1980 with an installed capacity of 500 MW, will have its turbines 1 and 3 overhauled and all four generators reconstructed, which is envisaged to boost output by at least 10%.
Minister of Finance and Economy Delina Ibrahimaj and state-owned power utility KESH’s Administrator Ergys Verdho have signed loan and grant agreements worth more than EUR 50 million in total with the Country Director of Germany’s KfW Development Bank Brit Horschke.
HPPs Fierza, Skavica are part of EU’s EUR 9 billion green plan for Western Balkans
Fierza is the first hydropower plant in the cascade on the river Drin (Drim). The project for its upgrade is part of the European Union’s Green Agenda for the Western Balkans and the related EUR 9 billion Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. The system’s reservoir has a volume of 2.7 billion cubic meters, of which 2.3 billion is used, according to data on KESH’s website.
KfW provided a EUR 40 million loan for the investment while the rest is covered by grants
United States–based Bechtel earlier won a contract to build hydropower plant Skavica upstream in the country’s northeast, near the border with North Macedonia. It is also one of the green agenda projects for the region. The company is working on feasibility and social and environmental impact studies.
Ambassador of Germany Peter Zingraf noted that his country provided a EUR 40 million loan and a EUR 2 million grant through KfW for Fierza and that they were complemented by a grant of EUR 8.35 million within the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).
KESH is preparing for its role in liberalized power market
Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku said the hydropower plant is covering 22% of the country’s electricity needs or 1.33 TWh per year but that it is in a poor condition due to lack of investment. Annual losses have reached 4%, she stressed.
The reconstruction will enhance KESH especially with regard to its future role as an energy supplier in the liberalized market in Albania and the region, in Balluku’s view. Domestic power demand has lately climbed as much as 90% from its usual level for this time of the year amid cold weather, but also the rebound from the pandemic impact, she said.
Downstream from Fierza is hydropower plant Koman, with a capacity of 600 MW, followed by the Vau i Dejës system of 250 MW, the last in the cascade. It is located in Albania’s northwest.
Minister Ibrahimaj said KfW has committed EUR 778.6 million for investments in the country so far, of which 40% in the energy sector, followed by 36% for water supply and sewerage.
Albania is almost 100% dependent on hydropower for its domestic electricity production, which makes it vulnerable to changes in hydrological conditions. The government, which declared a state of energy emergency in October, has high hopes in the deployment of wind and solar power plants.