Albania plans to diversify electricity generation with floating solar power plants

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 19, 2018 10:23

Albania plans to diversify electricity generation with floating solar power plants

Story Highlights

  • State-run power utility KESH says the floating plant will be an 118,000m2 floating system with a capacity of 12.9 MWp that will be built on the Vau i Dejes reservoir where the country’s third largest hydropower plant is situated

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TIRANA, July 19 – Albania’s state-run power utility KESH says it is planning to build the country’s first floating solar power plant on the northern Drin River cascade where it generates about two-thirds of the country’s domestic electricity from three hydropower plants built in the 1970s and 80s under communism.

The ambitious project would diversify the country’s current wholly hydro dependent electricity generation through new technology that has been revolutionizing renewable energy in the past decade.

KESH says the floating plant will be an 118,000m2 floating system with a capacity of 12.9 MWp that will be built on the Vau i Dejes reservoir where the country’s third largest hydropower plant is situated and that OST transmission operator has in principle agreed to link the floating power plant to the transmission grid once it is completed.

The state-run electricity producer says the floating power plant will be more efficient in electricity generation compared to land solar systems, but provides no details about the costs, financing and time for the completion of the ambitious project.

More and more global superpowers have been building floating solar plants as they seek to switch to renewable energy, with China already operating a 40MW plant, the world largest such project, producing enough electricity to power a small town.

“Floating solar arrays have been in use for a little over a decade. They have several advantages; they don’t take up any valuable space on land, and the cooling effect of the water on which the panels float makes them more efficient. They can also help to mitigate the evaporation of water for drinking or irrigation by intercepting sunlight before it hits a reservoir’s surface,” says the World Economic Forum.

Because of the country’s favorable geographical position and Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine, Albania’s is advantaged in solar energy production, but has no major such plant yet. However, solar panels are being increasingly used by households and businesses to meet part of their own needs and cut expensive electricity consumption.

With domestic electricity generation currently wholly reliant on hydroelectricity, Albania has large untapped wind and solar energy potential that can be cost-competitive, UAE-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has unveiled in a South East Europe report

“Due to the very good solar resource and relatively satisfactory wind speeds (3.3-9.6 m/s), there is high, untapped potential for the deployment of solar PV (up to 1.9 GW) and wind (987-2 153 MW),” says the report, adding that low temperatures of geothermal reservoirs make geothermal power generation an unlikely option in Albania.

In a bid to diversify electricity generation, the Albanian government has been offering incentives to small solar energy producers, setting a €100/MWh price on the electricity produced by small solar energy plants of up to 2 MW and €76/MWh tariff on wind energy plants with a capacity of up to 3 MW.

State-run KESH power utility also owns a new thermal power plant in Vlora, southern Albania, but the 97 MW $112 million low-sulphur distillate oil fuelled power plant available for use since 2011 has not been made operational because of high fuel costs and problems in its cooling system. Much cheaper Caspian natural gas from the under construction Trans Adriatic Pipeline could activate it on lower costs after 2020.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 19, 2018 10:23