Did you know that Albania has around 265 days of sunshine per year? That means there is enormous potential for a solar energy market.
And a new law passed in Albania last month pays specific attention to requirements for promoting solar energy in the country.
The new law not only covers solar energy, but will help to promote the use of technologies and innovations for generating electricity from renewable energy sources in general.
Many have contributed to the new law on renewable energy, which represents the culmination of over four years of hard work – including UNDP, which has a $1 million UNDP-GEF solar water heating project in Albania.
Experts hired by the project assisted with drafting of the new legislation on renewable energy, and also assisted national partners to develop an action plan on renewable energy.
Why the new law?
Albania wants to:
- Reduce the import of fossil fuels
- Promote a secure supply of energy
- Develop the local electricity market (including independent power producers)
- Take advantage of the increasingly favourable conditions that renewable energies can, and will, offer in the future as the world tries to respond to the increasing threat of climate change.
Historically, most electricity generated in Albania has been produced by hydropower (98 percent), although increased demand has led to regular power shortages.
The bad news is that climate change will likely have an adverse effect on hydropower, reducing average electricity output from Albania’s hydropower plants by up to 15 percent.
This is one reason why it is important for the Government to diversify its energy supply and promote other forms of renewable energy – such as solar energy and biomass energy.
Over 25 percent of energy consumed in Albania is imported, and the Government is working to reduce dependence on energy imports (See: Albania’s National Energy Strategy).
The new renewable energy law defines:
- A nationally binding objective for the contribution of renewable energy towards the final energy consumption by 2020
- Grid connection for Albanian companies as a means of promoting a reduction in dependence on energy imports
- Purchase and payment of electricity from domestic sources with long-term power purchase agreements up to 15 years
- Streamlined licensing and permission requirements (with particular attention to providing additional incentives for solar energy)
- Feed-in tariffs for renewable energy (to be established by the regulator)
This last point might be the most important. When the Albanian Electricity Regulator sets up the feed-in tariffs, investing in technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, biogas and small hydro becomes immediately more attractive.
The feed in tariff will also help Albania meet its commitment of a 38 percent target for renewable energy (excluding large hydro) by 2020 – also consistent with the country’s commitments as part of the European Union’s Energy Community (and part of Albania’s National Renewable Energy action plan).
Meanwhile, UNDP is continuing its work supporting the installation of some 520,000 square metres of new solar water heaters by 2020 as a means of assisting the Government with implementing its National Energy Strategy.
So far, installation of solar water heaters in Albania has doubled from some 50,000 square metres of installed capacity in 2009 to 112,000 square metres in 2012 – an increase of over 25 percent per year.
I believe that the passing of this new law means that renewable energy and in particular solar, hydro, and biomass energy has an exciting future in Albania. What do you think?