Albania to Assess Climate Change Risk to Energy Sector

Climate change is already occurring and early action to manage the risks that changing climate trends pose to existing energy infrastructure in Albania may reduce vulnerability and increase the resilience of the sector as it moves forward, according to the World Bank.

In the coming decades, Albania is facing the risks of rising average temperatures, increasing risk of heat waves, and intense precipitation events, as well as decreased annual average precipitation.

The energy sector in Albania is already confronting several challenges, including frequent power cuts, existing energy assets in need of rehabilitation, new assets being planned, as well as privatization.

To build greater understanding of potential risks and management options, the World Bank, together with the Government of Albania, conducted a workshop here on March 10, 2009 on climate risks and vulnerabilities in the country’s energy sector. The objective of this workshop is to undertake a hands-on, participatory vulnerability and adaptation assessment with involvement of government, private sector, scientific community and NGOs. A second workshop will follow in April 2009 to consider adaptation options, their costs, and benefits.

World Bank Country Manager for Albania Camille Nuamah, commented “There are opportunities to build in resilience for climate change when planning and designing new energy infrastructure. I am glad to be able to bring World Bank experience and that of our consultants, Acclimatise and Worley Parsons, to help Albania plan better for the future.”

Albania’s First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2002) highlighted some key vulnerabilities of the energy sector, including effects on energy demand for space heating, space cooling, water heating, and refrigeration. It estimated that rising temperatures could lead to a 12-16% reduction in energy demand for residential heating by 2025, compared to the 1990 baseline while demand for cooling is projected to increase in hotter summers. But energy demand drivers are not limited to temperature, with precipitation, wind speed, and cloud cover also being important factors. Since a large portion of Albania’s energy is generated by hydropower, energy supplies remain vulnerable to projected decreases in precipitation.

“By analyzing the areas of the energy sector where Albania might be at risk from climate change, we can identify and more quickly implement solutions, especially “no-regrets” solutions, that mitigate that risk,” said ESMAP Senior Energy Specialist Jane Ebinger. “The knowledge gained from these activities can also be shared globally so that we can all coordinate our efforts to reducing the economic risk of climate change.”

The workshop series is supported by grant funding from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), a global knowledge and technical assistance partnership administered by the World Bank to secure energy requirements for equitable economic growth and poverty reduction in an environmentally sustainable way – and from the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, which provides grant resources for World Bank activities aimed at mainstreaming the environmental, social, and poverty reducing dimensions of sustainable development into World Bank work.

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