Breaking-of-the-ground ceremony for hydropower plant Ashta

5/25/2009Vienna

Monday, 25 May 2009 saw the breaking-of-the-ground ceremony held by VERBUND and SPV Energji Ashta for the hydropower plant in Ashta, northern Albania, near Shkoder, the fourth largest town of the country.

From 2012 the power plant is to supply electricity for 100,000 households. At the same time, VERBUND is opening an office branch in Tirana.

Stable environment
Where electricity requirements are concerned, Albania continues to be a growing market. Thus, according to a recent study conducted by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw), even in the currently relatively difficult environment, an economic growth of 3 % was forecast for 2009, 4 % for 2010 and 6 % for 2011, which is significantly above that of the other countries in the region. Parallel to that, an increase in electricity consumption of 4 % is forecast until 2020.

Even today, Albania desperately needs more generation capacities (currently 1.5 GW) in order to reduce electricity imports (2008:2.5 TW).

"Ashta poses a significant challenge to the energy industry. The technological solution developed by our partners and us is a genuine innovation. For the first time in Europe, the hydro-matrix technology will be implemented on a large scale," Christian Kern, Verbund Board Member in charge of the project, emphasized.

"A sensible economic development of this power plant location would not be possible with conventional methods. Clean energy and innovative technology are to be credited for getting Verbund the decisive advantage in the tendering procedure," Kern explains the reason for Verbund winning the tender.

Power drive for the region
With an installed capacity of more than 50 MW, the power plant Ashta will be generating electricity for 100,000 households from 2012. Moreover, the project will create jobs and provide the region and the country with positive economic impulses. It will also increase the security of supply and will help reduce the country's dependence on electricity imports. The volume invested in the power plant project is approximately 200 million Euro and its concept is environmentally friendly, producing no emissions. At the end of the 35 year concession period, Ashta will revert to the Republic of Albania.

The concession agreement states that all approvals by the authorities are to be implemented by October 2009 latest. The formal procedures here are similar to those in Austria; Verbund has determined that, for the project planning,  the same European standards shall apply as in Austria.

Rapid pace
The Albanian Ministry for the Environment has already confirmed the environmental compatibility to Verbund on 30 April 2009. The "site permit" has also already been granted. The appeal for the construction permit will presumably be submitted to the authority in charge in June. With that, 100 % of all necessary authority approvals necessary for the start of construction works will have been procured by the end of the first half of the year.

"The dynamics of this country is indeed impressive. Here, new standards are being set in terms of tempo and cooperation. Within only half of the scheduled time, we have managed to conduct the entirety of the planning and have received all approvals, and without any suffering of our quality requirements," Christian Kern stated.

Thanks to the optimal cooperation with the Albanian authorities and partners, the breaking of the ground was achieved in record time, which was celebrated in the presence of prime minister Sali Berisha, as well as the responsible energy and economy minister Genc Ruli, as well as parliament president Jozefina Topalli.