The village of Kute will be one of those that are most impacted by the planned Pocem hydropower plant. 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. 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. The Vjosa river runs through the forest-covered slopes of Greece’s Pindus mountains to Albania’s Adriatic coast. 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. However, this natural treasure is at great risk. “With big dams its an either/or,” he says. Ecological concerns have been sidelined across the Balkans—not just on the Vjosa. The slogan “Vjosa No Dams” was displayed in large letters on the grass as singers in traditional dress welcomed the kayakers. NO dams in Vjosa, “NO” to Poçem dam. 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. You can unsubscribe at any time. The village overlooks the Vjosa River as it snakes its way north to the sea. Bernie Sanders Mittens Memes Take Over Social Media. 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. 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. 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. “One shouldn’t forget where Albania came from,” says Christoph Denk, head of EBRD’s Albania office. “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. FILE - A man jumps into a spring where it meets the Vjosa River in the Kelcyre Gorge, Albania, June 24, 2019. 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. Kayaking on the Vjosa River New river-based ventures are springing up, such as the Albanian Adventure Resort on the River Osum near Çorovoda, which will … “The fields are going to be completely filled up. Vjosa is considered an asset not only of Albania, but of the whole of Europe due to its extraordinary natural resources, Konfindustria noted. 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. The Kalivac dam project is the biggest threat to this ecosystem – a project with a dam wall of approximatively 50 meters high, that would destroy the Vjosa in one blow. 2018 is the last chance to save the Vjosa River. The real exposure is much higher than that,” considering that construction debts are often in foreign currency, projects take a long time to deliver (more than eight years on average, and often more than a decade) and that currencies often fluctuate in fragile economies. We’re supporting local activists and adventure guides fighting to stop the crazy plans to dam the River Vjosa in Albania, the last free-flowing wild river in Europe. The 25th September marks a day of success for one of the last pristine rivers in the Balkans. Following the inauguration of the Vjosa Research Center in Tepelena, the scientists embarked on a boat trip on the Vjosa River. “There is a lot of corruption inside of this process.”, Read More: Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production. While the U.S. now gets around 13 percent of its energy from renewables, the E.U. Standing on top of a high ridge overlooking the ancient stone hamlet, Taulant Hazizaj, who farms nearly 4,000 olive trees, sweeps his brawny weightlifter’s arm from the Vjosa over a rich bottomland of shaggy wheat fields, neat vineyards and pastures filled with sheep. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. o Vjosa is the last big free-flowing river left in Europe. Sitting with TIME in a lush garden near the Vjosa in southern Albania, he explains why the demonstration is needed. The EBRD, European Investment Bank (EIB) and the IFC have made loans for 75 hydropower projects, including 30 directly affecting protected natural areas, totaling 818 million euros, says BankWatch, an industry watchdog focusing on Central and Eastern Europe. Please attempt to sign up again. “This is the last big free flowing river [system] in Europe,” Rozman tells TIME, the day before the protest on May 20. The Vjosa River is widely regarded as Europe’s last wild river. In September, Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the government decided to cancel plans for the construction of HPPs on the Vjosa River, accompanied by the welcome decision not to issue the environmental permit for the Kalivac HPP. But as development moves ahead, the economic, social and even environmental drawbacks are casting a black shadow over the green boom. No. 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. But dams do not offer this option. The Letter was published two days before World Rivers Day which is celebrated worldwide on September 22nd. Joint press release by EuroNatur, Riverwatch and EcoAlbania. 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. 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. Globally, in 2015, both generating capacity and investment increased to an unprecedented level, reaching $286 billion, according to the Renewables Global Status Report. Currently around 1,355 new hydroelectric projects are planned, under construction or completed. In the EU, 25.4 percent of primary energy production comes from renewables, reports EuroStat. o The hydropower projects are the main threat to … 8 dams are planned along the Vjosa itself while 23 additional HPPs are projected on its tributaries – 4 of which are already finished while another 4 are under construction. “What is a village without its fields? Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our. 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. Wind farms are smart scaling,” he says. It will die.”. 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. “It’s a binary decision. 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. Big dams are dumb scaling. 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