VERBUND and EVN have signed the syndicate contract for the Ashta hydropower plant, which is to be constructed in northern Albania by 2012. With that, the first international partnership between Austria’s largest electricity provider and EVN, a group involved in several hydropower plant projects in Albania, is technically perfect. VERBUND and EVN each have 50 percent shareholdings in the power plant on the River Drin. The implementation of the power plant project has been assigned to the Tirana-based project corporation Energji Ashta; construction and management has been assigned to VERBUND, within the framework of a service contract.
Project already under construction
The Albanian government started the tendering procedure for the Ashta hydropower plant on River Drin on 15 January 2008. VERBUND successfully asserted itself in the call for tenders against international competition and was eventually selected by the Albanian government as the best bidder for the northern Albanian project.
The concession agreement was signed in Tirana on 30 September 2008 in the presence of Albania’s prime minister, Sali Berisha. The river power plant is being constructed to the south of Shkoder, Albania’s fourth largest city.
March 2010 already saw the start of construction on the innovative Ashta run-of-river power plant, which is to be equipped with state-of-the-art Hydromatrix technology. With a capacity of more than 50 MW, Ashta, the world’s largest Hydromatrix power plant, is scheduled to commence operations as early as 2012. It is designed to generate more than 240 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year and thus supply around 100,000 Albanian households with power. In total, VERBUND and EVN have invested around € 200 million in the power plant’s construction.
A fast pace
Approval for the project was obtained in record time: within a year, the go-ahead for all necessary authorizations had been given by the Albanian government. Incidentally, technical and environmental standards in Albania are similar to those in Austria.
A stable environment
Albania continues to be a growth market in terms of electricity requirements. Thus, even in today’s difficult environment, the latest study by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) forecasts an economic growth of 3 % for 2009, 4 % for 2010 and 6 % for 2011 - this is significantly higher than other countries in the region. At the same time, there is a predicted growth in electricity consumption of 4 % per year until 2020.