Albania dims lights as drought, price spike spark energy crisis
Albania has instructed all cities to turn off the lights in public buildings and streets whenever necessary to address an energy crisis that has been caused by high power prices and drought.
On Sunday, the country’s power utility KESH stopped 11 of 13 hydropower plant electricity turbines. The scarcity of water had forced Albania to import the majority of its electricity.
Albania seeks to diversify its energy production and has issued permits to solar and wind companies to reduce its dependence on hydro. This country, home to 2.8 million people, has no installed fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
However, Albania is facing a crisis like many other European countries. Prices rose up to five-fold last year.
Albania’s electricity generation is entirely dependent on hydropower. Insufficient rainfall over recent months, as well as excessive use of its water resources have only made the situation worse.
Russia’s invasion in Ukraine has increased energy prices. The Tirana government of Albania said that prices could rise to 1,000 euros per megawatt hour. Belinda Balluku, Energy Minister, stated that there will not be any rain for the next two weeks. “Things are only getting worse. That’s why it is necessary to rely upon imports.”
Balluku stated in a video message that “from today, imports are higher than domestic production” and that there are only two generators working at Drin river cascade.
KESH stated that the Drin’s water reserves were 315 GWh less than 1230 GWh in last year.
Similar situations are reported at smaller hydropower plants that are privately owned, which account approximately 40% of the production.
Albania refused to increase household prices and has taken out the state budget to cover the cost of import power.
Although the government claims it will need to inject 550 million euros ($607million) by 2022 to cover import power, experts suggest that this could be as high as one billion euros.
Reporting by Fatos bytyci; Editing By Alexander Smith