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. 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 abolition of HPP projects on Vjosa River will create the conditions for the safe withdrawal of hundreds of millions of Euro of international funding. 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. The wave of dam and small hydropower projects has received much of its funding from large multilateral development banks like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). Whereas a wind turbine park that is 99 percent finished will work fine for you. The village of Kute will be one of those that are most impacted by the planned Pocem hydropower plant. 8 dams are planned along the Vjosa itself while 23 additional HPPs are projected on its tributaries – 4 of which are already finished while another 4 are under construction. Kayaking on the Vjosa River New river-based ventures are springing up, such as the Albanian Adventure Resort on the River Osum near Çorovoda, which will … O n a blue-sky day on the Vjosa River, a kayak glides by a dam construction site at Kalivac, a small town in a wild Albanian valley filled with hidden mom-and-pop marijuana fields. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last intact natural rivers in Europe outside Russia. o Vjosa hosts high values of European biodiversity. Bernie Sanders Mittens Memes Take Over Social Media. But activists worry about the impact The push for green power can hurt the environment Ecological concerns have been sidelined across the Balkans—not just on the Vjosa. 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. “There is a lot of corruption inside of this process.”, Read More: Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production. Those numbers were vetted by BankWatch. In the decade from 2004-2014, renewable energy produced in the EU increased by 73.1 percent. Dam construction currently constitutes the major detrimental threat of this area. The Vjosa river runs through the forest-covered slopes of Greece’s Pindus mountains to Albania’s Adriatic coast. “Climate change is a serious concern for a country like Albania and that needs to be taken into account when planning further renewable energy resources,” says Denk. Vjosa is considered an asset not only of Albania, but of the whole of Europe due to its extraordinary natural resources, Konfindustria noted. 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. It will die.”. That would not be clever in a time with too much energy,” speaking out in March. Wind farms are smart scaling,” he says. The Vjosa or Aoös originates in northwestern Greece near Metsovo. NO dams in Vjosa, “NO” to Poçem dam. 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. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. The Letter was published two days before World Rivers Day which is celebrated worldwide on September 22nd. According to this paper, the last big wild river of Europe is at risk of complete destruction. Chants of “No dams!” join the thumping, as nearly a hundred residents of Kuta, an ancient village threatened with flooding by a proposed dam project on the Vjosa River, join the demonstration. The Vjosa/Aoos River, wild and free Located in the transboundary area of Albania and Greece, the Vjosa/Aoos River is one of Europe’s last wild rivers. The Albanian government commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam. To take the French example, on the country's rivers and streams are (totally or partially) blocked every 6 km in average [1] [2] whereas most of them do not have a known use [3] . The construction of the dam … In the EU, 25.4 percent of primary energy production comes from renewables, reports EuroStat. Construction costs typically run more than 90 percent over than their budgets, says Flyvbjerg, based on his analysis of 245 large dam projects in 65 countries. Big dams are dumb scaling. NGOs uncover: 33 hydropower plants projected ++ Austrian and Italian companies involved ++ New initiative supports national park idea. The paddlers slap the hulls of their candy colored kayaks with open palms, sending deep thunks bouncing off the walls of the Albanian prime minister’s offices in Tirana, the capital. Albania is looking to dam the Vjosa, Europe's last wild river, in an effort to develop clean power. Sheep feed in the delta of the Vjosa River, where it flows into Adriatic Sea. Funding will go to the development of tourism industry, infrastructure, solar and wind energy production, agriculture, agro-industry, wastewater treatment, solid waste, etc., to the benefit of all residents of the region and the national economy. 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. +++ 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. A dam that is 99 percent finished won’t work. And activists say those loans are sometimes based on shoddy environmental impact assessments. “It’s a binary decision. 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. Albania’s government has set in motion plans to dam the Vjosa … The Vjosa River is widely regarded as Europe’s last wild river. Another kayaker catches it and tries to run it up the steps of the offices to place it on the prime minister’s doorstep, but is roughly stopped by police. “These will have to be weighed in each instance against each other,” says Denk. All the banks say they are interested in transparency and willing to work with BankWatch—while defending the need for further investment. “Does it mean one should stop all hydropower projects that are in the pipeline? The data was presented at the International Forum on Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Vjosa River Basin organized by Konfindustria. The dam projects on the Vjosa are part of a much larger building program of hydroelectric dams in the Balkans (see the map). © Copyright 1995 - 2021, All rights reserved. The protection of the Vjosa River from the construction of HPP dams has practically become one of the important unwritten conditions for the continuation of the political process of Albania's EU integration, Konfindustria said in a press release. 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. Further, Wolfgang Anzengruber, the head of Verbund, Austria’s largest energy provider, has said that developing more clean energy development projects in the Balkans no longer makes sense, since a swarm of solar and wind projects in Germany has glutted the European market with cheap, clean power, even as the region’s economy takes a hit post-Brexit. 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. “Our analysis clearly shows that especially for the EBRD, but also the World Bank Group, financing hydropower projects in protected areas is the norm, not an exception,” said Bankwatch’s Pippa Gallop in a statement in December. The Vjosa ist the last big wild river in Europe, outside Russia. You can unsubscribe at any time. Its entire course of over 270 kilometers is untamed and free-flowing, characterized by beautiful canyons, braided river sections, oxbows, meandering stretches, and islands covered with vegetation. The walls of the stalled Kalivac dam rise in the background, cut into the living rock of the surrounding hills. Dam projects threaten Vjosa. In September, Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the government decided to cancel plans for the construction of HPPs on the Vjosa River, accompanied by the welcome decision not to issue the environmental permit for the Kalivac HPP. 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. No. “This is the last big free flowing river [system] in Europe,” Rozman tells TIME, the day before the protest on May 20. The Aoös (Greek: Αώος) or Vjosë (Albanian: [ˈvjɔsə]) is a river in northwestern Greece and southwestern Albania. All Rights Reserved. Rok Rozman, a Slovenian Olympic rower, biologist and environmental campaigner, hoists a kayak covered in dozens of signatures protesting the dam, and heaves it over the heads of the police line protecting the building. Its got to be 100 percent finished. The Kalivac dam project is the biggest threat to this ecosystem – a project with a dam wall of approximatively 50 meters high, that would destroy the Vjosa in one blow. Read More: Rediscovering Albania: A Photographer’s Tribute to His Homeland. The Vjosa River at a Crossroad – Dam Tsunami or National Park? The Vjosa River at a Crossroad – Dam Tsunami or National Park? Vjosa –Europe´s first Wild River National Park". It is fed by several tributaries, such as the Voidomatis, Sarantaporos, Drino and Shushicë. Residents of the Vjosa valley, mainly from Kuta village protested today against the construction of Poçem hydro-power by blocking the national road Levan-Tepelenë near Poçem … At the same time, 78 percent of the respondents oppose the construction of dams on the Vjosa (14% neutral, 8% in favor of dams). 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. 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