Any business that today pays 14 ALL / kWh of energy received from the Electricity Distribution Operator could significantly reduce its bill if it were to use solar energy. The manager of EuroElektra, Elton Çekrezi, says that generally the discount would fluctuate between 6-8 ALL. This would certainly be reflected in a much more economical energy bill.
According to Çekrezi, the return on investment takes 5-7 years. Of course if you provide the energy for a more economical price of ALL 9.5 such as the one set for household customers, the plants have a return on investment over the longer term, but in the end it is feasible. Given that, their lifespan is more than 25 years.
More than a year after the adoption of the law on renewable energy sources how do you see the market situation, certainly more photovoltaic oriented?
After the law is passed, let us say that the first barrier to skepticism associated with anything new in the market has been broken. The photovoltaic market is almost underdeveloped in Albania and is normally a little harder to understand. Business continues to express skepticism about the benefits of implementing photovoltaic technologies, but it is worth noting that the desire to be informed has increased and in my view is a positive development.
I note that immediately after the adoption of the law, there were floods of applications to the institutions although to my knowledge, some of the documentation submitted by them has been self-sufficiently prepared and not sufficiently studied, because Albania's experience in this aspect is minimal. It is worth noting that some of these applications are made for areas that really have energy potential in this sector, but we need to see what the outcome will be.
I want to add that the legal framework is open to any interest group that wants to be part of this initiative: from ordinary consumers, to businesses that want to lower their energy bills to those who want to invest in solar energy as a purely business goal focusing on production and sales.
The law also stipulates that if anyone manages to obtain a permit but fails to meet deadlines for various reasons: financial, technical or technological, then the permit is automatically suspended. This means that the real opportunity is given to those who really want to invest, correcting what happened to the hydropower plants where the permits were obtained and then simply commercialized as such.
You said we had an increase in interest, but which business profiles do you see as most interested in this?
Increasing information day by day has begun to crystallize the way such an investment works, and the first businesses that have shown the most interest are Textile and shoe industry, agro-processing or tourism businesses, which not only have financial opportunities but and have based this idea on technical assessments that truly value their economic benefit.
On the other hand, businesses that want to invest in power generation and sale are large businesses that have significant capital to cover the guarantee at 20% of the investment value set by law. This type of interest has generally arisen in company mergers under a single project, which facilitates them in terms of capital and financing.
Today, Albania is increasingly aware of the potential that Albania has in terms of solar energy production, which, above all, can serve as a very good balancer against hydropower. The development of both would avoid situations of high imports, which occur mainly during drought periods during the summer months and which can be significantly avoided if this increased solar potential during this period is used to offset domestic energy needs of the country.
The opening of the energy stock market is another advantageous factor for investors, which if realized, enables producers and consumers to get the best that this kind of competition provides.
I think the dynamics of developments in photovoltaic power generation will change as soon as two or three steps have been completed that are not fully completed, such as 'net metering' and methodology. I am convinced that if the above steps are successfully completed, the developments we will see will be visible to all. However, what I wanted to emphasize in this section is the care we have to show, as a country with no experience in this regard.
Citizens and investors should invest in safe, controlled products coming from official channels and trusted brands, as we are talking about long-term investments. If the money is tossed into "no name" products, the chances are that the return on investment will be very long and, worse, fail. As the global trend is increasingly geared towards diversifying energy sources, there is no shortage of international brands in the market that deliver high quality products that enable security, high yields and fast return on investment. Therefore, it is suggested that the technology used in photovoltaic projects be it for the last 2-3 years for family or industrial consumption.
To your knowledge, how much is the Albanian market at risk from non-quality products?
As I mentioned earlier, the European market today has companies that suffer the consequences of frivolous investments and have residual or series defective products. Their introduction in Albania would repeat the HPP scenario for us. It practically fails to make a failed investment. The global trend is towards more innovative and efficient products and the famous ROI (Return on Investment) is always the key element required to optimize product and price.
Which business category would you recommend investing in photovoltaic plants?
I would recommend investing in photovoltaic to any business that today pays a 14 ALL tax-free fee, because the account is simple. For example, if you pay an invoice of ALL 100,000 every year, with a total of ALL 1.2 million per year, for a five-year period the value reaches a total of ALL 6 million. With a simple account, you can reduce your current bill and invest in yourself. With the return that this investment has, it takes you 5-7 years and then you can have "free" energy.
In your opinion, is it feasible to install panels for any business that pays 14 lek?
There are benefits for each category, but 14 is the most representative. Power generation from photovoltaic panels reduces the tariff by 6-8 ALL / kWh. Whereas for the target group that pays the energy by 9 ALL, the investment return period is 8-9 years and is higher than the investment return period of the previous category.
What needs to be done better to foster this sector?
When the legal framework is complete and paves the way for investment, more focus should be placed on establishing partnerships with stakeholders, including banks, consulting companies, potential investors and operators offering products.
Lobbying to find the right way to work together would have a chain effect on the realization of the best projects, guaranteed and profitable financing by the banks and the best expertise we need to get from the outside, as we like Albania we do not have them. Successfully implementing such a model in the country and raising a European standard would undoubtedly be the most important step in this sector.