And activists say those loans are sometimes based on shoddy environmental impact assessments. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last intact natural rivers in Europe outside Russia. Sheep feed in the delta of the Vjosa River, where it flows into Adriatic Sea. The Vjosa is the one of the last big free-flowing rivers in Europe. “It’s a binary decision. Together with its tributaries, the Vjosa provides a dynamic, near-natural ecosystem that is without par in Europe. While the U.S. now gets around 13 percent of its energy from renewables, the E.U. Along its entire course of over 270 kilometers – from its source in the Greek mountains to the Adriatic Sea – it is untamed and free flowing. You can unsubscribe at any time. The Albanian government commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam. Albania’s government has set in motion plans to dam the Vjosa to generate much-needed electricity for one of Europe’s poorest countries, with the intent to build eight dams along the main river. Looking at the dates of past hydroelectric projects, Zamir Dedej, the director of the Albanian government’s National Agency of Protected Areas, says nearly all the projects were given as kickbacks for votes. You’re not going to be able to see the fields anymore,” he says, describing the extent of the reservoir that will form behind the Pocem dam. There is much at stake, as Balkan rivers are some of Europe’s last wild waterways. Of these, around 200 new projects have been finished and another 113 are under construction. +++ Impacts of hydropower projects for nature, people and coastal region to be calculated +++The University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), together with the Polytechnic University of Tirana, have started an assessment of the sediment transport in the Vjosa river in Albania. The IFC, which has invested €116 million in hydropower projects in Albania, estimates that the country only uses 30-35 percent of its hydropower potential, highlighting a “clear need for for Albania to increase its production and energy security.” And while both banks see a need for energy diversification across the Balkans, Denk, of EBRD, admits that poor rainfall can drop hydropower production from around 85 percent, to “much below” 50 percent, highlighting risks to the hydroelectric sector cause by fluctuations brought on by climate change. In order to bridge the knowledge gap, about 30 scientists from 4 countries and various expertise participated in one week of research in April 2017 on the previously almost unexplored Vjosa river in Albania – in the area of the planned Poçem dam. Please try again later. The slogan “Vjosa No Dams” was displayed in large letters on the grass as singers in traditional dress welcomed the kayakers. © Copyright 1995 - 2021, All rights reserved. Join us. Please attempt to sign up again. The area has mostly been drained and the Vjosa is used for irrigation, built during the Communist era. We will vigorously fight against this project and for a dam-free Vjosa!”, says Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania and coordinator of the Vjosa campaign in Albania. Because Albania suffers from a serious trade deficit—exporting 27.1 percent as a proportion of its GDP, versus imports of 44.3 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank—Denk says that green energy generated cheaply for export “is a strength, and one that the country, I think, legitimately would pursue to utilize.” But he says it is up to the Albanian government to weigh whether an individual hydroelectric project is more important than saving a section of river and the livelihood of thousands of villagers. The real exposure is much higher than that,” considering that construction debts are often in foreign currency, projects take a long time to deliver (more than eight years on average, and often more than a decade) and that currencies often fluctuate in fragile economies. All Rights Reserved. Standing on top of a high ridge overlooking the ancient stone hamlet, Taulant Hazizaj, who farms nearly 4,000 olive trees, sweeps his brawny weightlifter’s arm from the Vjosa over a rich bottomland of shaggy wheat fields, neat vineyards and pastures filled with sheep. The proposed 45-m (147 ft) Pocem dam near Kuta represents just one of nearly 1,400 new small and large hydroelectric projects planned across the Balkans, as countries like Albania, Serbia and Macedonia rush to cash in on a flood of investment in green energy. The abolition of HPP projects on Vjosa River will create the conditions for the safe withdrawal of hundreds of millions of Euro of international funding. The Kalivaç project was the first hydropower plant that was issued on the Vjosa river in 1997. FILE - A man jumps into a spring where it meets the Vjosa River in the Kelcyre Gorge, Albania, June 24, 2019. “This is a very conservative number. But it is definitely something that needs to be taken into account.”. Of that, hydropower makes up 16.5 percent, wind provides 11.1 percent and solar accounts for 6.1 percent. Dam construction currently constitutes the major detrimental threat of this area. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our. Whereas a wind turbine park that is 99 percent finished will work fine for you. EUR 550 m of Losses from Dams on Vjosa River Current Event Monday, December 21, 2020 The construction of hydropower plants (HPP) on Vjosa River is estimated to causes an economic damage of not less than Euro 550 million in of Albania, the confederation of Albanian industries, Konfindustria, said on Sunday, citing studies of some of the most specialized international institutions. NGOs uncover: 33 hydropower plants projected ++ Austrian and Italian companies involved ++ New initiative supports national park idea. Projects like wind and solar farms are modularized and can be scaled to the exact amount needed or that is economical. “The proclamation of the Vjosa River Basin along its entire length from the border with Greece to the Adriatic Sea, as a protected area with the status of "National Park" would dispel the doubts publicly expressed by international institutions that we are dealing only with tactical withdrawals of the government before the elections of April 25, 2021 for the non-construction of HPP dams on the Vjosa River and not a final decision,” Konfindustria noted. It will give you 99 percent of what you would have gotten.”, Regardless, construction of the Pocem dam will probably go ahead, according to Dedej, from the environment ministry. When the Albanian government commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam, the coalition of conservation under the leadership of EuroNatur, together with 38 affected residents, filed a lawsuit against this project. We’re supporting local activists and adventure guides fighting to stop the crazy plans to dam the River Vjosa in Albania, the last free-flowing wild river in Europe. Ironically, the last free flowing river in Europe could be destroyed in the scramble to benefit economically from efforts to slow climate change through renewable energy. Strong political lobbies of the EU, academics, scientists of well-known international and domestic universities, the diplomatic corps, etc., have continuously demanded from the Albanian governments the protection of the Vjosa River from the construction of HPPs. The river runs 272 km (169 miles) from the mountains of northern Greece through Albania, and is the last undammed river system in all of Europe outside of the scantly-populated Russian Arctic. Today, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with their local partner EcoAlbania, are presenting a paper, which for the first time reveals the full extent of the threat to the Vjosa catchment area. While clean energy projects spawned by climate change could generate needed foreign revenue for countries like Albania, rising temperatures pose a significant threat to the profitability of the projects, since a hotter atmosphere is projected to deplete water reserves in Mediterranean countries. We are still on level 0, even -1, at the moment.” But the people from Kuta, a village deeply rooting in agriculture, won’t stop fighting for their way of life. The Vjosa River is widely regarded as Europe’s last wild river. On the shore of the river, President Ilir Meta used the opportunity to promote the idea of a Vjosa National Park, instead of damming the river: "I am in favor of a national park. Refusing to grant permit for the Kalivaç hydropower dam, Albanian politicians spoke out in favor or proclamating Vjosa National Park, the first European wild river national park. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. According to data published by ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’, a campaign launched by two international NGOs, the Albanian government plans to build over 400 hydropower plants across the country, including eight dams on the Albanian stretch of the Vjosa River and 23 hydropower plants on its tributaries [3]. Albanian PM Rama: Vjosa River to Remain Free of Dams in Albania Posted on 30 September 2020 Last week Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, reacted to the statement of Albanian President Ilir Meta who supported the establishment of the Vjosa National Park. 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