Verbund, Austria‘s leading electricity company and among Europe‘s top electricity utilities, is to start the construction of the world’s largest matrix power plant in Albania by the beginning of March 2010. The project company “Energji Ashta”has been granted all necessary permits and is expected to finalize construction work on the more than 50-MW-strong hydropower plant close to Shkoder until 2012.
After having received all necessary permits, Verbund’s project- company Energji Ashta construction work for Ashta HPP will start in March 2010.
After winning the tender in July 2008, Verbund signed the concession agreement with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy in September. Within the same year the project company Energji-Ashta, a 100% subsidiary was founded.
From 2008 until the beginning of 2010 Verbund has managed to get all necessary permits granted by the responsible authorities. The package consisted of: the Environmental Permit, Site Permit and the Grid Connection Permit which have all been granted during 2009. Finally Energy License, necessary for the operation of the Hydro Power Plant and Construction Permit were granted by the responsible authorities in December 2009, respectively January 2010.
Christian Kern, Verbund’s Managing Board Member, responsible for the project, expressed its satisfaction with how the project is moving: “The dynamics of this country is indeed impressive. In Albania, 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, without having to compromise our quality requirements. Thanks to the optimal cooperation with the Albanian authorities and partners, everything was achieved in record time”.
The Ashta HPP is designed to be the biggest power plant using Matrix Technology worldwide. It is divided in two parts: initially electricity will be generated at Ashta I where 45 Matrix turbines will be supplied with up to 530 m3/s water. This innovative technology employs several small ones. As a result, it is possible to utilize even low heads and thereby increase efficiency.
Electricity will be generated for a second time in Ashta II, after a seven-kilometer-long, low lying bypass channel close to the small village of Ashta, part of the commune of Bushat. From 2012, the electricity generated will be fed into the Albanian 110-kV grid.
Despite the unfavorable financial climate and the decision for consolidation, Verbund has followed its investments plans – among them the construction of the Ashta HPP. The company is committed to deliver its promises.
With an investment of 200 million Euros HPP Ashta is expected to generate 240 million kilowatt hours per year and will deliver electricity for more than 100,000 Albanian households.
Clean Energy: State-of-the-Art-Technology for Albania
With the aim of delivering a quality product through state-of-the-art technology Verbund has determined that European standards shall be applied in Ashta.
HPP Ashta is an environment friendly, trend-setting project, using innovative Austrian technology built by Albanian companies. Approximately 32 Mio Euro go directly and indirectly to Albanian, companies cooperating with international players such as Andritz, Siemens or Porr. The project is expected to give employment to approximately 250 people during construction phase.
The Hydro Power Plant Ashta will produce energy from a renewable source and will therefore avoid CO2 emissions, thus contributing to the United Nations efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a consequence it is going to be implemented under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) according to the Kyoto protocol of the United Nations Franework Convention of Climate change (UNFCCC).
Albania joined the UNFCCC in 1995 as a Non-Annex 1 party and joined the Kyoto Protocol in 2004. CDM is a relatively new process in Albania. The legal and institutional framework for carbon finance has been established in 2009 and the Albanian Ministry of Environment has been appointed as the Delegated National Authority responsible for CDM in Albania.
Energji-Ashta has already had the chance to prove that it is a reliable new partner to Albania in general and especially to the Commune of Bushat. Three public information meetings for the affected commune members and abutting owners have been held in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In close cooperation with the mayor, infrastructural improvements have been defined and during the flood in January 2010 Verbund was ready to help the people by sending food and other relief goods.
Electricity from Albanian hydro power for Albanian people
For the next 15 years, the electricity produced in Ashta will be bought entirely by Korporata Elektroenergjetike Shqiptare (KESH), Albania’s state energy supplier. Afterwards, the contract will either be extended or the electrical energy will be sold freely on the market.