A German bank loan of 50 million euros opens the way
for the construction of 126km high voltage 400kV line from Elbasan in Albania
to Bitola in Macedonia, designed to integrate the energy trade in the region.

Albania’s government on
Tuesday will sign an agreement for a loan of 50 million euros with the German
state-owned development bank KfW, that will open the way for the construction
of a high-voltage 400kV interconnection line with Macedonia.

The project that in Albania
will start in Elbasan and will end in Bitola in Macedonia has been mulled for a
long time between the two governments.

The total cost is estimated at
70 million euros. Besides the loan from KfW, funds will come from the Albanian
Transmission System Operator, OST, and from the EU.

Once financial cover for the
project is arranged, work in the field is expected to start at the beginning of
2017 and finish in 2018.

The new energy line with
Macedonia comes after Kosovo and Albanbia finished another high-voltage 400kV
power line that will enable higher levels of energy exchange between mostly
lignite-powered generation capacities in Kosovo and the hydro-generation
capacities of Albania.

Pajtim Bello, chairman of the
Supervisory Board of OST, told BIRN that the construction of the line with
Macedonia will complete Albania’s plan to connect itself with its neighbours by
land.

“After the high
inter-connection voltage lines that we built with Montenegro, Greece, and
Kosovo, Macedonia is the last one. After that, Albania will finally able to transmit
and receive energy from all over the region,” he stated.

Bello said the the project was
important in terms of integrating regional systems of electricity, increasing
energy security and enabling Albania and Macedonia to develop an energy market.

The project also creates new
energy opportunities for the south of Albania. “We aim to stimulate the
Fieri region – a big local energy consuming area – to returning to an energy
production region. The interconnection line will enable access for energy production
through gas, wind, and sun,” he said.

In December 2015, when the
project was first floated at a roundtable of officials of the two countries,
the Albanian Energy Minister, Damian Gjiknuri, said the high-voltage line with
Macedonia would not only connect up the regional energy market but create
opportunities for energy transmission to Italy as well.

“The line will open up an
opportunity for a connection by an underwater cable with Italy and the European
Union,” he stated.