Start of Works on the EU-supported North Macedonia - Albania transmission line
On 17 February, works commenced on the 400 kV transmission line that starts from the transformer station "Bitola 2" and connects the power transmission systems of North Macedonia and Albania. The project has exceptional regional strategic and capital value, as it completes the process of connecting North Macedonia to the power transmission systems of all the neighbouring countries, adding to the already operational five 400 kV interconnections - two connections with Greece and one each with Serbia, Kosovo and Bulgaria.
This transmission line is part of the larger capital project of €50 million for the interconnection of North Macedonia with Albania, including the construction of a transformer station in near Ohrid which started in August 2021, as well as the expansion of the 400/110 kV transformer station "Bitola 2". In the context of the entire power chain east-west, the interconnection transmission line Bitola-Elbasan is the key link in the transit of electricity from Bulgaria, through North Macedonia and Albania to Italy.
The new transmission line will provide improved and affordable energy supply to residents and businesses in North Macedonia by normalising voltage levels, stabilising load flow and frequency fluctuations, and decreasing technical losses in the overall transmission system. The WBIF project is expected to be completed in 2023.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided a €37 million to the Macedonian Transmission System Operator AD (AD 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 AD MEPSO.
On the Albanian side, the investments comprise a 400 kV transmission system that will connect Fier to Elbasan and from there to the border with North Macedonia. In addition, a new substation (Elbasan 3) will be built while the substation in Fier will be upgraded to 400 kV level. These investments are supported by a €14.3 million EU grant, and a €50 million loan provided by the KfW Development Bank on behalf of the German Federal Government.
This project is important for the integration of European electricity markets and is a Project of Energy Community Interest (PECI) since 2013. It is included in the Strategy for Energy Development of North Macedonia until 2040 and is funded under the EU’s Connectivity Agenda.
Dimitar Kovačevski, Prime Minister of North Macedonia: „With this project, North Macedonia is positioned as a Balkan crossroads for electricity distribution. The transmission line and transformer station realize the strategic commitment of the national electricity transmission system operator MEPSO, which is to provide a reliable and stable system, integration into the common European electricity market, and thus increased competitiveness and economic benefits for all citizens. With this project, North Macedonia meets the high European technological standards for electricity transmission, something that is especially important for us as a country.“
Julian Vassalo, The Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia: „Investing in projects like this is a step towards energy transformation and energy security in the country and the region, and this project is a good example of connectivity and cross-border cooperation. European Green Deal and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans give us the tools to address the issues on sustainable manner. The EU remains committed to completing the EU's East-West corridor initiative for electricity transmission between North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Italy.“
Andy Aranitasi, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development North Macedonia: „The interconnection overhead line will play a key role in developing the regional electricity market and increasing the capacity of renewable energy sources, where solar energy and wind will be the two priority renewable sources that will be developed in North Macedonia and Albania in the short and medium term, building on the support that the EU and EBRD have provided to the authorities in both countries to launch competitive tenders for renewable energy sources.“
Orhan Murtezani, General Manager of AD MEPSO: „This investment completes the electricity connection with all our neighbours that will provide greater security and stability of our power system and involvement in all regional energy exchange initiatives.“
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