French Company Wins Tender for Albanian Solar Park

Prime Minister Edi Rama has announced the winner of a tender to construct a 140MW photovoltaic park in southern Albania, worth EUR 100 million.

French renewable energy company Voltalia will be responsible for what is expected to be the biggest solar park in the Western Balkans, covering 198 hectares.

Rama said on Facebook that such a project would have been “unthinkable” several years ago, but has been made possible thanks for “long work and tireless perseverance.” 

Almost 30 foreign companies expressed interest in the Karavasta project, but only five, including companies from India, Germany and China, made it to the final stages. Voltalia has offered a price of EUR 24.89 per MWh some 40% cheaper than the maximum price of EUR 55, set by the government.

Belinda Balluki, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure told RTSH that the French company met all of the conditions of the tender.

“This is a record low price for energy parks. The offer is extraordinary,” she said.

The EBRD who is working in collaboration with the Albanian government to develop the countries’ solar sector said the price offered confirmed the value of preparing a tender in line with international best practices.

This shows the power of markets. If you run a well-structured tender then the private sector can deliver public goods in fantastically competitive and imaginative ways,” commented Harry Boyd-Carpenter, EBRD director, head of energy EMEA.

Voltalia is owned by the Mulliez group which is controlled by one of the richest families in France. In 2018, the same company bid to build another park in Albania but the tender was awarded to an Indian consortium instead.

Despite investing heavily in solar power and inviting a range of solar projects to the country, the Albanian government is still pushing ahead with a number of controversial hydropower plants.

A member of the Mulliez family had their home raided by Belgian authorities in 2016 as a part of a cross-border investigation into suspected tax fraud and money laundering. 

Patrick Mulliez’s home was searched on the basis of an international warrant. No arrest was made but a number of documents were seized by the authorities. The family was also reported to be having “tax troubles” to the tune of EUR 88 million with the French authorities as recently as 2019.