Investing in Green Economy: Power from Sunshine in Albania 

Solar panel at a guest house in Theth, Albania

Albania has an estimated 260 sunny days/year thus representing a great potentials  for renewable energy. Studies indicate that  over 70% of domestic hot water needs of the household and service sector in Albania is supplied by electric boilers, while the energy demand for hot water in Albania is projected to grow.  Solar radiation values are between 1,185 kWh and 1,700 kWh per square meter horizontal surface and per year. In comparison to other European regions these represent very high values. Theoretically solar energy could provide the low temperature heat necessary in Albania during a period of at least 7 to 8 months. 

The majority of the  population uses electricity to heat their water. Over 95 % of the electricity generated in Albania comes from hydropower plants. However, in-country generation covers only half of Albania’s electricity demand: depending on yearly weather conditions between 30 and 60 % of the electricity is imported. This makes energy production and supply - including water heating - highly vulnerable to climate conditions. Retrofitting the entire power distribution system is beyond Albania’s economic capacities, while the present growth rates of electricity demand is of more than 8 % per year. Hence Albania’s most realistic and economical way to stabilize electricity consumption is to look at alternatives for the bulk of its electricity demand using renewable energy resources.

Following Government’s request  to increase the share of solar thermal energy in the country, UNDP and GEF are supporting solar water heating technology through legal and market based instruments. UNDP in cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy and the Ministry of Tourism and Environment is working to reach the target of 75,000 m2 of new installed collector area over the duration of the project, as well as an annual sale of 20,000 m2 with expected continuing growth to reach the set target of 520,000 m2 of total installed SWH capacity by 2020. This is estimated to correspond to over 300 MW of avoided, new fossil fuel power capacity by using solar instead of electricity for water heating, and estimated cumulative GHG reduction potential of over 800,000 tons of CO2 by the end 2020.  

As part of the project, 69 public institutions have benefitted from the SWH systems installed in Shkodra, Lezha, Rubik, Tirana, Durres, Elbasan, Gramsh, Rrogozhine, Lushnje, Divjake, Fier, Vlore and Sarande.  

Vlora Kindergarten No.10 is one among 55 public  institutions that have benefitted from the porject interventions:  “Three thermosyphon solar systems are installed of a total 12 m2 proving hot water for the needs of children, personel and the kitchen. This has resulted in around 70%  of savings of the energy used to meet the demand for hot water. In terms of payback period it is calculated to be 7 – 8 years for the public instituions.The lifetime of  the system is 20 years, while the maintance cost varies from 3-10 % of the initial investment per year.Major studies about the market development and the potential for solar energy systems have been carried out. All those studies came to a common conclusion: Using solar water heating systems, one may save around 30 - 50 % of the electricity used for sanitary hot water preparation. A well dimensioned solar water heater may cover up to 70 % of the respective demand for hot water throughout the year” says Mirela Kamberi, Climate Change Programme Manager for UNDP-Albania.

Unsustainable patterns of energy production and consumption threaten human health, quality of life and deeply affect ecosystems and contribute to climate change. Sustainable energy tackles those challenges and represents an engine for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

UNDP’s work on energy corresponds to the main targets of SDG 7 on energy: ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; work with countries to make energy systems and usage more efficient; and work to increase the global share of renewable energy.




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