Calls on EU to help keep Western Balkans warm this winter grow

Calls on EU to help keep Western Balkans warm this winter grow |

Albanian Power Corporation (KESH) Director Ergys Verdho has asked for EU assistance in combatting the energy crisis, joining calls from Prime Minister Edi Rama and other regional leaders over fears of high prices and plunging temperatures as winter draws nearer.

Albania relies on hydropower during the spring and summer, exporting the rest abroad. During autumn and winter, it uses some hydropower and imports fossil fuel energy from its neighbours. However, 2022 has been particularly dry, resulting in low water levels in the country’s main dams and reservoirs, leading to concerns the country could struggle to meet energy needs.

“The situation is normal for now, but if there is no rain, the situation will be problematic, and the price [of imported energy] is very high. There is a pronounced energy shortage of 4 gigawatt-hours in the region; many generators have stopped working due to repairs, so the lack of energy in the market leads to high prices,” he explained.

In Kosovo, the country’s main thermal power plant is experiencing technical issues, with output currently not enough to sustain even the capital of Pristina.

Meanwhile, Kosovo’s Finance Minister, Hekuran Murati, said the government would subsidise citizens with a measure that doubles and refunds the savings onto their bills.

“For example, if 1000 kilowatt hours were spent last September and 900 this year, it can be considered that a saving of 100 kilowatts, or 10 per cent, was made. For this percentage, we will support the 20 per cent bill subsidy. Twice the savings made by citizens,” he said.

While the price of Albanian electricity is yet to rise by any significant amount, this is due to subsidies from the state and could change towards the end of winter.

“To be able to enter the market, to ensure the missing amount of energy from production, today we are talking about a figure of €300 million, from January to today. KESH coped best with this with its own funds until July; the state stepped in to help by injecting this capital,” Verdho said.

As for whether the country could face blackouts, Verdho said that if energy stays above 800 KW, there will be no interruption as it can be covered locally. But he warned that the low levels of rain between June 2021 and today “has never happened in the history of the power corporation.”

On Friday, KESH called on citizens to reduce consumption by switching off just two lights for four hours daily, saving some 3,500 MW/h.

“The electricity bill will be lower by turning off two lights for four hours daily. This will translate to 58.4 kw/h saved per year and 654 leks (€5) less on your bill,” KESH said in an information video.

At the Open Balkan Summit in Belgrade on Friday, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Rama called on the EU to assist their countries in terms of energy.

“A difficult winter is approaching. We have seen that there will be help from the EU. Partial help or support to buy the necessary energy will be significant and excellent for all our countries. It is also a necessity for them to survive the winter,” Vucic said, speaking about concerns about the winter ahead.

Rama was less measured in his comments, criticising the EU for its approach to helping EU membership hopefuls in times of crisis.

“The EU should not do the shame it did during the pandemic with us. They all remember very well how the Balkan countries were forced to run to China, Russia, and Turkey to start the rescue operation of nurses and doctors for vaccination,” Rama said.

“The EU closed itself and saw only within the walls of its own castle, and the leaders of the EU have accepted that this was a shame,” he added.

The leaders of Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia agreed to share food and surplus energy going forward.

“Everything ours will be available to North Macedonia and Albania and vice versa,” Vucic told the media.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *