Construction Starts on Electricity Interconnector between Albania & North Macedonia

Source: 8/31/2021, Location: Europe

• New interconnector will enhance cross-border exchanges in electricity network
• Improved and affordable energy supply to residents and businesses in North Macedonia
• Installation of smart grid system completed

Work has started on the construction of a new power substation in Ohrid, a key component of the first electricity interconnector between Albania and North Macedonia, which will range from Bitola in North Macedonia to the Albanian border.

The project, financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU), is part of the EU’s initiative to establish an east-west electricity transmission corridor between Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Italy.

The start of construction work was marked today in Ohrid in the presence of the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, Albania's Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Ilir Bejta, as well as representatives of the EBRD and EU (Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia, and Julian Vassalo, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia).

Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia, said: “Supporting crucial, regional cross-border infrastructure is key to creating larger integrated energy markets and increasing energy security in the region. The construction of this new line will help scale up renewable energy capacity in North Macedonia, allowing the country to achieve a faster decarbonization of its electricity sector and also improve the balancing of electricity systems by connecting the electricity market of North Macedonia, which is dominated by thermal power, to the Albanian electricity market, where hydropower prevails.”

Julian Vassallo, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union, said: "This project, supported by the EU with a grant of €12 million, allows the two countries to create a sustainable regional energy market, move towards the decarbonization targets of the Green Agenda and replace ageing infrastructure that is prone to technical losses. Ultimately this will result in more reliable and less expensive supply of energy for residents and companies in the region."

The project completes the 400 kV electricity ring between Albania, North Macedonia and Greece, enhancing cross-border exchanges in electricity and contributing to the development of the regional market. A further section between Bulgaria and North Macedonia that has also been financed by the EBRD has already been completed. A new 400 kV line between Albania and Montenegro as well as a submarine cable between Italy and Montenegro are also complete and operational.

The new transmission line will provide improved and affordable energy supply to residents and businesses in North Macedonia by normalizing voltage levels, stabilizing load flow and frequency fluctuations and decreasing technical losses in the overall transmission system.

The EBRD provided a €37 million to the Electricity Transmission System Operator of North Macedonia (MEPSO) to support the construction of the interconnector and for the introduction of smart grid components, which improve energy forecasting and facilitate the integration of renewables into the power system.

The EU co-financed the investment with a €12 million grant under the Western Balkans Investment Framework. In addition, Luxembourg extended funds for technical assistance to MEPSO.

The EBRD is a major institutional investor in North Macedonia. To date, it has invested more than €2.1 billion in 146 projects in the country. Supporting green energy is a priority for the Bank as it addresses one of the country’s most pressing challenges.

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