Big dams are dumb scaling. All Rights Reserved. And in the case of some privately funded projects, concessions have been given as election year pork. 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. 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). 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. The Vjosa River is widely regarded as Europe’s last wild river. The Kalivaç project was the first hydropower plant that was issued on the Vjosa river in 1997. “This is a clear message: the people of Albania want a national park and no dams on the Vjosa, and the government should listen to them”, concludes Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania. Globally, in 2015, both generating capacity and investment increased to an unprecedented level, reaching $286 billion, according to the Renewables Global Status Report. He hopes a compromise can be found between the natural flow of the river and economic gain, but, he says, “How can this happen? The conservation organization EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with 38 affected residents, filed a … Please try again later. o Vjosa is the last big free-flowing river left in Europe. The river Vjosa in Tepelena, Albania – ‘the last big wild river in Europe’. It is fed by several tributaries, such as the Voidomatis, Sarantaporos, Drino and Shushicë. The data was presented at the International Forum on Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Vjosa River Basin organized by Konfindustria. In order to bridge the knowledge gap, about 30 scientists from 4 countries and various expertise participated in one week of research in April 2017 on the previously almost unexplored Vjosa river in Albania – in the area of the planned Poçem dam. Join us. The dam projects on the Vjosa are part of a much larger building program of hydroelectric dams in the Balkans (see the map). The Vjosa river runs through the forest-covered slopes of Greece’s Pindus mountains to Albania’s Adriatic coast. Those numbers were vetted by BankWatch. 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. 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 … 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. Following the inauguration of the Vjosa Research Center in Tepelena, the scientists embarked on a boat trip on the Vjosa River. We are still on level 0, even -1, at the moment.” But the people from Kuta, a village deeply rooting in agriculture, won’t stop fighting for their way of life. It will give you 99 percent of what you would have gotten.”, Regardless, construction of the Pocem dam will probably go ahead, according to Dedej, from the environment ministry. The river runs 272 km (169 miles) from the mountains of northern Greece through Albania, and is the last undammed river system in all of Europe outside of the scantly-populated Russian Arctic. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our. 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. A dam that is 99 percent finished won’t work. Vjosa is considered an asset not only of Albania, but of the whole of Europe due to its extraordinary natural resources, Konfindustria noted. Environmental impact assessments should have caused some of the river projects to be halted, “but unfortunately, they did a very bad job,” Dedej says, sitting in his small office at the end of a dimly lit corridor in the Environment Ministry. However, this natural treasure is at great risk. When the Albanian government commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam, the coalition of conservation under the leadership of EuroNatur, together with 38 affected residents, filed a lawsuit against this project. 12 Mär, 2015 By admin. Sheep feed in the delta of the Vjosa River, where it flows into Adriatic Sea. But it is not just the environment that could suffer. All the banks say they are interested in transparency and willing to work with BankWatch—while defending the need for further investment. Because Albania suffers from a serious trade deficit—exporting 27.1 percent as a proportion of its GDP, versus imports of 44.3 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank—Denk says that green energy generated cheaply for export “is a strength, and one that the country, I think, legitimately would pursue to utilize.” But he says it is up to the Albanian government to weigh whether an individual hydroelectric project is more important than saving a section of river and the livelihood of thousands of villagers. Sitting with TIME in a lush garden near the Vjosa in southern Albania, he explains why the demonstration is needed. 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. An unexpected error has occurred with your sign up. Bernie Sanders Mittens Memes Take Over Social Media. Dam construction currently constitutes the major detrimental threat of this area. Today, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with their local partner EcoAlbania, are presenting a paper, which for the first time reveals the full extent of the threat to the Vjosa catchment area. Hydropower projects, specifically large dams, could end up bankrupting the delicate economies of the Balkans, says Bent Flyvbjerg, chair of Major Program Management at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. o Vjosa hosts high values of European biodiversity. “Does it mean one should stop all hydropower projects that are in the pipeline? “These will have to be weighed in each instance against each other,” says Denk. 2018 is the last chance to save the Vjosa River. About 150 Local NGOs and International Organizations, have addressed a letter to Prime Minister of Albania Mr. Edi Rama, regarding the urgent need to protect the Vjosa River, which is considered to be the last free-flowing river in Europe. Konfindustria urged the Albanian government to start the work for the official proclamation of the entire Vjosa River basin as a National Park according to international standards. In the decade from 2004-2014, renewable energy produced in the EU increased by 73.1 percent. The Vjosa River at a Crossroad – Dam Tsunami or National Park? Albania’s government has set in motion plans to dam the Vjosa … Rediscovering Albania: A Photographer’s Tribute to His Homeland, Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production, Germany’s Nuclear Cutback Is Darkening European Skies, Europe's Last Wild River Is About to Get Dammed. 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. “Even without considering environmental impacts, big dams are bad business,” says Flyvbjerg, “and if you include the environmental impacts, that conclusion would be even worse.”, Read More: Germany’s Nuclear Cutback Is Darkening European Skies. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. 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. The river Vjosa is the location of a large dam project that will threaten the whole area, destroying the homes and farmland of people that have lived there for generations. +++ 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. Today, the stunning 270km stretch of Albania’s Vjosa River remains untamed, free-flowing and untouched by man. Vjosa –Europe´s first Wild River National Park". You can unsubscribe at any time. Inside Infectious Diseases Hospital amid Coronavirus Outbreak, President's Message for RAI 1, Together We Will Succeed, DP Accuses PM of Ignoring Albanians Living in Survival Conditions, Economy Can Be Recovered again, but the Dead Can't Be Brought Back, Eagle Forces Respond Positively to Doctors' Call for Blood Donation, American Citizens: April 1st May Be Last Flight from Tirana. And activists say those loans are sometimes based on shoddy environmental impact assessments. 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 Vjosa River at a Crossroad – Dam Tsunami or National Park? Of these, around 200 new projects have been finished and another 113 are under construction. 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. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last intact natural rivers in Europe outside Russia. The Letter was published two days before World Rivers Day which is celebrated worldwide on September 22nd. Refusing to grant permit for the Kalivaç hydropower dam, Albanian politicians spoke out in favor or proclamating Vjosa National Park, the first European wild river national park. But dams do not offer this option. “We talk about smart scaling and dumb scaling. The Vjosa River is one of Europe’s last living wild rivers. NGOs uncover: 33 hydropower plants projected ++ Austrian and Italian companies involved ++ New initiative supports national park idea. “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 walls of the stalled Kalivac dam rise in the background, cut into the living rock of the surrounding hills. 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. Today, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with their local partner EcoAlbania, are presenting a paper, which for the first time reveals the full extent of the threat to the Vjosa catchment area. Joint press release by EuroNatur, Riverwatch and EcoAlbania. Its got to be 100 percent finished. * The request timed out and you did not successfully sign up. 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. But it is definitely something that needs to be taken into account.”. Flyvbjerg takes a similar view, but for different reasons. The Vjosa or Aoös originates in northwestern Greece near Metsovo. That would not be clever in a time with too much energy,” speaking out in March. Currently around 1,355 new hydroelectric projects are planned, under construction or completed. Wind farms are smart scaling,” he says. The EBRD has directly or indirectly financed between 16 and 19 projects in protected areas, the bank tells TIME, adding that the projects in protected areas have not had a significant impact. Environmentalists refer to the Vjosa as the last free-flowing river … FILE - A man jumps into a spring where it meets the Vjosa River in the Kelcyre Gorge, Albania, June 24, 2019. Its total length is about 272 kilometres (169 mi), of which the first 80 kilometres (50 mi) are in Greece, and the remaining 192 kilometres (119 mi) are in Albania. 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. “There is a lot of corruption inside of this process.”, Read More: Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production. Dam projects threaten Vjosa. Looking at the dates of past hydroelectric projects, Zamir Dedej, the director of the Albanian government’s National Agency of Protected Areas, says nearly all the projects were given as kickbacks for votes. According to data published by ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’, a campaign launched by two international NGOs, the Albanian government plans to build over 400 hydropower plants across the country, including eight dams on the Albanian stretch of the Vjosa River and 23 hydropower plants on its tributaries [3]. 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. Its drainage basin is 6,706 km (2,589 sq mi) and its average discharge is 195 m /s (6,900 cu ft/s). Ecological concerns have been sidelined across the Balkans—not just on the Vjosa. But activists worry about the impact The push for green power can hurt the environment 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. “With big dams its an either/or,” he says. The construction of the dam … NO dams in Vjosa, “NO” to Poçem dam. The area has mostly been drained and the Vjosa is used for irrigation, built during the Communist era. Encouraging the villagers to fight for the beauty of the valley and the river, Ulrike Lunacek, the European Parliament vice president, said Albania was a candidate to join the EU and must respect its environmental rules. 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. Cities and towns including Ersekë, Përmet, Gjirokastër, Tepelenë, Mallakastër, Fier and Vlorë are located in the Vjosa catchment in Albania. “It’s a binary decision. 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. Could Amsterdam's New Economic Theory Replace Capitalism? 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. According to this paper, the last big wild river of Europe is at risk of complete destruction. 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. July 14, 2016 July 14th, 2016, Poçem, Mallakastër. The village of Kute will be one of those that are most impacted by the planned Pocem hydropower plant. The village overlooks the Vjosa River as it snakes its way north to the sea. No. “One shouldn’t forget where Albania came from,” says Christoph Denk, head of EBRD’s Albania office. IUCN – potential for a National Park “What is a village without its fields? “This is a very conservative number. Together with its tributaries, the Vjosa provides a dynamic, near-natural ecosystem that is without par in Europe. “The proclamation of the Vjosa River Basin along its entire length from the border with Greece to the Adriatic Sea, as a protected area with the status of "National Park" would dispel the doubts publicly expressed by international institutions that we are dealing only with tactical withdrawals of the government before the elections of April 25, 2021 for the non-construction of HPP dams on the Vjosa River and not a final decision,” Konfindustria noted. Please attempt to sign up again. “They are still trying to tell people that this is green energy, that they are helping the locals, saving the environment, but this is all that is left,” says Rozman. At a time when dams are slowly being removed in the U.S., a surge of interest in renewable power has Balkan governments scrambling to harness the power of their rivers. Whereas a wind turbine park that is 99 percent finished will work fine for you. While the U.S. now gets around 13 percent of its energy from renewables, the E.U. © Copyright 1995 - 2021, All rights reserved. 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. 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 fields are going to be completely filled up. Projects like wind and solar farms are modularized and can be scaled to the exact amount needed or that is economical. NGOs uncover: 33 hydropower plants projected ++ Austrian and Italian companies involved ++ New initiative supports national park idea. It will die.”. The Vjosa is the one of the last big free-flowing rivers in Europe. There is much at stake, as Balkan rivers are some of Europe’s last wild waterways. Of that, hydropower makes up 16.5 percent, wind provides 11.1 percent and solar accounts for 6.1 percent. “It is not the time for extensive new projects in the power plant sector over the next few years. 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. The slogan “Vjosa No Dams” was displayed in large letters on the grass as singers in traditional dress welcomed the kayakers. o Vjosa and its tributaries are an unique ecosystem of European importance. The proposed 45-m (147 ft) Pocem dam near Kuta represents just one of nearly 1,400 new small and large hydroelectric projects planned across the Balkans, as countries like Albania, Serbia and Macedonia rush to cash in on a flood of investment in green energy. Of 35,000 km (21,747 miles) of Balkan rivers assessed by conservationist groups, 30 percent were found to be “pristine” and 50 percent were only “moderately modified.” These rivers are home to around 70 endemic species of fish, and the river basins are home to critically endangered species like the Balkan lynx. Need for further investment September 22nd whereas a wind turbine park that is 99 percent finished won ’ work..., as Balkan rivers are some of Europe ’ s Adriatic coast Change Could Hurt production. 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