GGF approves loan for Blue 1 solar power project in Albania

With the financing package obtained from the Green for Growth Fund, 75% of the costs for the Blue 1 solar power plant in Albania will be covered. The facility is under construction.

The Green for Growth Fund (GGF) said it earmarked a EUR 28 million loan for the construction and operation of the Blue 1 solar power plant in Fier. The county in western Albania hosts most of the photovoltaic project sites in the country. The private endeavor is a significant milestone in the history of energy production there, as it is the largest non-subsidized solar project in the Western Balkan region, GGF said.

The special purpose vehicle for the photovoltaic unit under construction was founded by Blessed Investment and Matrix Konstruksion.

The investment in the 50 MW facility in Topoja near Fier aims to tackle the challenge of underinvestment in renewable energy, the fund added. It will cover up to 75% of the associated costs of the project, which is under construction.

GGF’s Technical Assistance Facility provided support in augmenting the impact generated by the investment while ensuring that the project is developed in adherence to best international practices from an environmental, social, and technical perspective, the announcement reads.

Blue 1 to save 1,900 tons of CO2 emissions per year

The project brings together a range of institutional knowledge and resources and has significant potential to create a long-term impact for Albania, given the country’s abundant solar resources, which have remained largely untapped, GGF pointed out. By diversifying the energy mix and reducing reliance on hydropower, it will increase the stability and resilience of the energy system, providing a more secure source of electricity, according to the fund.
Blue 1 will contribute to the diversification of the energy mix and the reduction of Albania’s reliance on hydropower

GGF said the initiative is projected to significantly contribute to Albania’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11.5% by 2030 from the 2016 levels. Projections indicate that the project will result in a reduction of approximately 1,900 tons of CO2 emissions and generate more than 108 GWh per year.

The expected environmental benefits of this project align with GGF’s mission to promote renewable energy and drive climate change mitigation, according to the statement.

GGF: Inspiring others to follow suit

“GGF’s investment in this solar project in Albania is a testament to our commitment to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources, a necessity for reducing dependence on fossil fuel and mitigating climate change. By investing in this project, we seek to demonstrate the viability of green energy projects and inspire other investors to follow suit,” GGF Chairman Christopher Knowles asserted.

It is a great example of how collaboration and technical knowledge sharing can create a lasting impact, GGF Technical Assistance Facility Chairperson Klaus-Peter Pischke added. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to play a part in enhancing energy security in Albania,” in his words.

The Green for Growth Fund invests in measures designed to cut energy use and CO2 emissions, and improve resource efficiency in 19 markets: in Southeast Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine, Moldova, the Middle East and North Africa. The fund provides financing directly to renewable energy projects, corporates and municipalities or indirectly via selected financial institutions. The GGF’s Technical Assistance Facility maximizes the fund’s investment impact through support for capacity building at local financial institutions and partners.

GGF’s consultants Barlovento, Dentons, Kalo, RSK, Willis and Afry have helped close the Blue 1 deal, said Finance in Motion, which advises the fund.

First non-subsidized utility-scale project under construction in Western Balkans

Blue 1 is the first utility-scale project in the region under construction without any kind of subsidy from the government, said Blessed Investment President Besnik Leskaj stated. “We would like also to recognize the government of Albania for creating the conditions for it to happen,” he stressed and said the partnership with GGF is a key milestone in the process of energy transition and renewable energy in the Western Balkans.

Blue 2 is planned to have 50 MW in capacity as well.

Blessed Investment President Besnik Leskaj praised Albania for improving the market environment

Blessed Investment invests in a range of sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure and engineering, environment, tourism, real estate, ICT, logistics and finance. The firm said it is active in more than 10 countries and that it is investing in more than 25 companies.

In Albania, utility-scale photovoltaic system Karavasta, which at 140 MW in peak capacity will be the biggest in the Western Balkans, and Erseka near Korça are also under construction.

Of note, Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO or Admie) and its Albanian counterpart, the Transmission System Operator – OST, are planning to build the second interconnection between the two countries from Arachtos to Fier. The 145-kilometer cable would increase the cross-border capacity by at least 200 MW in both directions.