The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is investing €12.7 million in a €70 million project to upgrade the 600MW Komani hydropower plant in Albania.

The project will upgrade the safety of the plant, which is the largest of a hydro complex including three cascades that produce 65% of Albania’s electricity demand.

No major maintenance has been carried out at the project for more than 30 years. Work is needed as its dam is corroded in its lower external part, and is 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.

“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, the 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. 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.
The Albanian government and other international financial institutions are also funding the project.