Tirana thinks nuclear

TIRANA (AFP) – Albania may turn nuclear to overcome energy shortages and try to enlist its Balkans neighbors in the project, Prime Minister Sali Berisha said yesterday. Albanian officials had already contacted expert companies for their advice «in order to begin such projects,» Berisha told reporters in the capital Tirana. «Our main goal is to make Albania an energy superpower in the region,» he added. He had called on legal experts to «prepare a legal framework» for the switch to nuclear power, he said. «I am convinced that nuclear energy is the most stable and the cleanest sort of energy.» Albania plans to call on governments from neighboring countries including the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro as well as Kosovo for their support. Since summer, Albania has been struggling with a serious energy crisis due to months of drought that has hit the country’s hydroelectric power plants. The authorities have had to ration electricity to an average of four hours per day, introduce power cuts for consumers and state institutions and order many companies to work at night, when power consumption is lower. While Albania needs some 18 million kilowatts daily, the country can only produce only 5.5 million. It imports a mere 6.5 million. Dilapidated hydroelectric power stations in Albania were mostly constructed during the post-World War II communist era and are the country’s only electricity plants.