Albania dims lights as drought, price spike spark energy crisis

Albania dims lights as drought, price spike spark energy crisis

Albania has ordered all cities to turn off lights in public buildings and on streets when necessary as it tackles an energy crisis caused by drought and power price spikes.

The country’s state power utility KESH on Sunday halted 11 of 13 electricity turbines at hydropower plants as the scarcity of water forced Albania to import most of its electricity.

Albania is trying to diversify its energy production by issuing permits to wind and solar companies in order to end its total dependence on hydro. The country of 2.8 million people has no installed electricity generation from fossil fuel.

But like other European countries, Albania has faced a crisis since last year when prices rose by up to five times.

All Albania’s domestic electricity generation depends on hydro power and lack of rainfall in recent months and overuse of its water reserves have worsened an already bad situation.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further increased energy prices and the Albanian government in Tirana said that prices may go up to €1,000 per MWh. “There will be no rain in the next two weeks and things are only getting worse, that’s why we have to rely on imports,” Energy Minister Belinda Balluku said on Sunday.

“From today, imports will be higher than domestic production and at this moment we have only two generators that are working at the Drin river cascade,” Balluku said in a video message.

KESH said that water reserves in its three water basins on the Drin were only 315 GWh, against 1,230 GWh last year.

A similar situation is reported at other smaller private hydropower plants, which account for around 40% of production.

Albania has refused to raise prices for households and is covering the cost of importing power from the state budget.

The government has said it will have to inject around €550 million in 2022 to cover imported power, but some experts say that may reach up to €1 billion. [Reuters]

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