Albanian hydropower plant wins Chinese backing – EURACTIV.com
A stalled hydropower plant project has received backing from China, signaling that work may soon be underway in an area of outstanding natural beauty popular with tourists.
Three dams will be built on the Shala River in northern Albania, a popular area for boat trips and treks. Two of the proposed plants will be found inside Theth National Park, described as a ‘paradise’ and a ‘pearl’ of Albania.
The project was presented by a consortium comprising one of Kosovo’s most influential businessmen, Ekrem Luka, a Slovenian company and a Dubai-based real estate company. But the project was put on hold for years, possibly due to lack of funds.
However, a framework contract between the Gezhouba group, the Irish Sala Energy Company and the Albania 3Power Shala Company on the project was listed as a result of the Chinese CEEC summit last year.
Gezhouba Group is a construction and engineering company and one of the major shareholders is the state-owned China Gezhouba Group Corporation. The company is involved in numerous investments abroad and is used to entering into hydropower engineering contracts abroad, representing a large part of its portfolio.
He is also involved in many of China’s controversial One Belt, One Road projects which have been accused of debt trap diplomacy and using infrastructure to increase Beijing’s international power.
The Albanian government has been warned against building small hydropower projects by many international organizations, including the EU and WWF. This is due to their inefficiency and lack of long-term sustainability in the wake of climate change.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the government of Republika Srpska has embarked on a nefarious hydropower project on the Trebišnjica river, funded by the Export-Import Bank of China with works carried out by Gezhouba.
The whole project is contested because the reorientation of the natural waterways would reduce the water flow in the Neretva river which crosses Croatia and already receives too much seawater from the Adriatic, threatening the survival of flora and fauna. the fauna of the region as well as the agricultural activities which depend on the river.
(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)