Albania Approves Atomic Energy Agency

Friday, January 22, 2010

Albania's government approved on Wednesday the creation of the country´s National Atomic Agency, an institution that will supervise of development of nuclear projects.

Earlier Prime Minister Sali Berisha had announced that the government was looking at the possibility of constructing a nuclear power plant.

"We should not forfeit Albanians of the chance to benefit from this clean source of energy," Berisha said in December 2008, during the Vienna Economic Forum held in Tirana.

The Prime Minister said the government's goal is to make his country a regional energy superpower.

However most commentators believe that Berisha's statements are little more than hot air and will do little to help present electricity shortages.

Albania´s power generation system has not seen major investment since the early 1980s, when the cash-strapped former communist regime stopped investing in new hydropower dams.

After the fall of communism, the demand for energy grew rapidly. The power grid is estimated to need $1.6 billion (EUR1 billion) in investments to eliminate power failures.

Berisha's statements over constructing a nuclear power plant, have drawn interest from Italy, where construction of nuclear power plants was prohibited by a 1987 national referendum.

Italian energy giant Enel has expressed interest in locating a nuclear power generating project in the Balkans, possibly in Albania or Montenegro.

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