North Macedonia has started the construction of the 400 kV power link Bitola-Elbasan, the first with Albania. Albania is the only neighboring country with which North Macedonia didn’t have such a connection.
The construction of the Bitola-Elbasan power line, with a total length of 97.4 kilometers, has started with the construction of the new 400/100 kV substation near Ohrid.
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that with the EUR 50 million investment, the East-West electricity corridor will be put into full function, enabling the transit of electricity from Bulgaria, through North Macedonia and Albania to Italy.
The power link is is scheduled to go online in 2023
The power link will complete energy Corridor 8, a segment of a much larger project that includes the use of energy resources from the Caucasus region and from Central Asia and their transfer to the Balkans.
In February 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Energoinvest and Croatia’s Končar were awarded by North Macedonia’s transmission system operator (TSO) MEPSO with contracts worth EUR 35 million for the power link. The two companies will install a new 400 kV line to connect the country with Albania, a new 400/100 kV substation near Ohrid and an extension of Bitola 2 substation.
It is the largest investment in the transmission network in the country, which is scheduled to go online in 2023, Zaev said.
Zaev said North Macedonia has five 400 kV power links: two with Greece and one with Serbia, Kosovo* and Bulgaria, and that the new one will complete the connection with electricity transmission systems of all neighboring countries.
COVID-19 restrictions didn’t slow down preparations
MEPSO Director Kuštrim Ramadani noted the investment is financed by a EUR 12 million grant from the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), an EUR 37 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and MEPSO’s own funds.
Despite the difficult conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, MEPSO managed to start the major project with a delay of only a few weeks, Ramadani pointed out.
The investment will contribute to the regional integration of the energy markets
Minister of Economy Krešnik Bekteši said the Bitola-Elbasan power line will contribute to the regional integration of the energy markets. It will improve the security of electricity supply, and increase electricity price competitiveness, he added.
Ilir Bejta, Albania’s Deputy Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said the capital project creates opportunities for new investments.