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East-West electricity transmission corridor gets boost from EBRD and EU

By Axel  Reiserer

East-West electricity transmission corridor aims to connect electricity markets of Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Italy

€12 million EU grant will support construction of electricity interconnector between Albania and FYR Macedonia

Today at the Western Balkans Investment Summit, in the presence of all regional prime ministers, the European Union confirmed its intention to provide a €12 million grant to support construction of the first electricity interconnector between Albania and FYR  Macedonia and the introduction of grid efficiency improvements to the infrastructure of MEPSO, the electricity transmission system operator of Macedonia.

The project is part of the connectivity agenda for the Western Balkans with funding provided from the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) through the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF).

The EBRD has already committed a €37 million loan to the project to boost the regional integration of energy markets in the Western Balkans.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “Supporting crucial regional cross-border infrastructure and creating larger integrated energy markets increases energy security. It is also one of the EBRD’s priorities in the energy sector of the Western Balkans. This project signifies an important step towards establishing a regional electricity market. We are pleased to have a generous contribution from the EU in this very important project.”

The Director General for Enlargement at the European Commission, Christian Danielsson, added: “This project is part of the European Commission’s efforts to support the Western Balkans connectivity agenda. Building this transmission line will improve the security of supply and the stability of the two countries' power systems. It will also help to develop a regional electricity market in which production and transmission capacity can be managed throughout the Western Balkans, rather than national basis. This will reduce waste and excess capacity".

This project is part of the European Commission’s initiative to establish an East-West electricity transmission corridor between Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia,  Albania, Montenegro and Italy, including the planned submarine cable from Montenegro to Italy, an important step towards establishing a regional electricity market. The grid efficiency components implemented by MEPSO will also ensure that the transmission of electricity is energy efficient and uses the best available technologies.

The project has received technical assistance from the WBIF to fund the feasibility study, the environmental and social impact assessment and preparation for the main design of the project.  

The European Union is the EBRD’s largest single donor. In 2015 it made available €179 million – about a half of the total EBRD donor funding.

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