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Mon September 28 2020

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Crumbling hydro scheme gets funding for repairs

31 Oct 14 Funding has been secured for a safety makeover at an Albanian hydropower plant where no major maintenance work has been carried out in the 30 years since the structure was built.

Albania’s most important hydropower plant, Komani, is to be upgraded with funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD).

The dam’s state of disrepair can be appreciated by the naked eye in its lower external part, which is corroded by the spill water and slowly crumbling. Further weaknesses were exposed after exceptional rainfall in 2010, highlighting the need to improve resilience in the face of ever more frequent extreme weather conditions.

The plant is in a spectacular setting in the mountains of the Puka region. The Komani dam, with an installed power of 600MW, is the largest of a complex including three hydro cascades that produce 65% of Albania’s electricity demand.

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EBRD is investing €12.7m (£10m) in the €70m (£55m) operation, in which the Albanian government and other international financial institutions are taking part.

“We are completing the removal of debris at the toe and the construction of the serpentine road which will improve access to the dam,” said Astrit Beqiri, director of the Komani plant at the Albanian Power Corporation (KESH), the state company that manages the largest generation plants in Albania.

The work to cement the dam and introduce rock fall measures is due to start in March 2015, he added. The project is based on the results of a feasibility study funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). It helped identify urgent investment needs to bring the dam safety to modern standards, including a better monitoring and alarm system and improved procedures and maintenance operations.

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