VERBUND and EVN Open Ashta Hydropower Plant in Albania

18.09.2012Maria Enzersdorf, Shkoder, Vienna,

Completion of the First Major Joint International Project

The project company "Energji Ashta" and its owners, VERBUND and EVN, are today opening a world first in Albania: The largest matrix hydropower plant using small turbines. Ashta hydropower plant has been undergoing construction during the last 30 months in the north of Albania, close to Shkoder, the country’s fourth largest town. It represents the largest investment to have been made on Albania’s energy market in the past 30 years. In the process, extremely innovative measures have been carried out on the river Drin: matrix technology (a small turbine the size of a telephone box) facilitates an especially efficient utilisation of hydropower. An annual 240 million kWh of electricity will in future be generated in Ashta, thus enabling 100,000 Albanian households to be supplied with renewable energy.

Following its completion, Ashta power plant will generate electricity for 100,000 households in Albania, create jobs and provide the region and the country with positive economic stimulation. It will improve supply security and help to reduce Albania’s dependence upon electricity imports. It has been planned in an environmentally friendly way and will not produce any emissions. At the end of the 35-year licence period, the power plant will be transferred to the Republic of Albania.

The power plant comprises two stages: There, where the Spathara reservoir was erected three decades ago, with its overflow weir and small irrigation system for agriculture, Ashta 1 will harness the power of the river for the first time in order to produce electricity in 45 Hydromatrix® turbines. The test operation for the power plant stage has been completed and commissioning is going ahead with today’s opening.

Electricity is being produced for a second time in Ashta 2, which is situated after a five-kilometre-long, low-lying headrace channel close to the locality of Ashta. Once again, 45 Hydromatrix® turbines are being employed here. The units for both Ashta power plants are supplied by Andritz-Hydro AG, thus making them an Austrian product.

The total capacity of both plants (Ashta 1 and Ashta 2) amounts to 53 Megawatt (MW); it is intended that 240 million kilowatt hours will be produced annually. This roughly represents one quarter of the amount that Vienna’s Danube power plant of Freudenau is able to deliver. Construction began in March 2010: some 200 million Euro have been invested.

VERBUND and EVN, the Austrian companies responsible for the project, advocate high standards and reliability in all areas of its implementation. The entire spectrum of hydropower know-how was employed in the process. In addition, the project is being erected in accordance with the highest environmental standards and is also being equipped with Albania’s first fish ladder. As a result, fish will be able to swim unhindered from the Spathara reservoir through to the Adriatic Sea for the first time in 70 years.

The Ashta project has been constructed in line with regulations of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There will not be any CO2 emissions and, as a hydropower plant, it will additionally save some 114,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The CDM envisages a comprehensive dialogue with the stakeholders, which is being carried out here in what is so far a unique manner in Albania. Alongside a professional stakeholder management on a national level, local groups and stakeholders - such as local councils, abutting owners and citizens - have been extensively informed by means of regular civic information events.

For a period of 15 years, the electricity produced in Ashta will be collected entirely by Korporata Elektroenergjetike Shqiptare (KESH), the Albanian state electricity supplier. At the end of this period, the contract can either be extended or the electrical energy sold freely on the market.