Energy Sector Towards the Renewable Potential in the Albanian Context
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Annual Review of Territorial Governance in Albania, I, 2018, Page 122-142
The energy sector in Albania today is a driving force toward major changes. Shifting from fossil fuels and atomic based energy sources with enormous impacts on the environment to harvesting energy from renewable resources is shaping countries and economies worldwide. But the energy sector remains historically vulnerable, dependent on yearly precipitation and the hydrographic regime of rivers. During the last decade, Albania has been a net importer of energy, especially during the summer time, indicating that hydro-dependence is not sustainable. The energy supply sector has the potential to collapse when combined with massive losses in transmission and irresponsible consumption behaviour. Furthermore, climate change effects have directly impacted the sector. For instance, in 2017, drought and reduced precipitation contributed to lower HPP basin levels, forcing OSHEE and KESH to import around 120 million EUR worth of electric energy. To date there are around 500 hydropower plants in Albania that are either operative, under construction, or planned. Of these, 105 are located in protected areas. Such power plants have had a significant impact on local biodiversity. Besides problems with production and supply, Albania has significant consumption problems as well. Public institutions and public lighting are major consumers, but are often unable to pay their bills. The Albanian housing sector is responsible for consuming at least 47% of the total amount of electric energy produced on a yearly basis. This paper provides a description and analysis of Albania’s energy situation with an emphasis on sustainability. It deals with production, consumption behaviour, efficiency, renewables, strategic orientation, and fostering an environmental and economic resilience of the sector. It concludes with policy recommendations regarding renewable energy potential in Albania.