“Government needs structured feedback from Business on its legislative initiatives”
Mr. Alvensleben: I started as Country Manager for Voltalia in Albania in November, have now been on the job for half a year and must say that I really enjoy having joined the energy field. Compared with air transport it is a much more competitive sector, and the current situation where Albania is moving to diversifying its energy mix, introducing more solar and more wind energy sources, presents a lot of opportunities.
I have also been welcomed by a motivated and competent team at Voltalia Albanie SHPK, which even has grown since I started. And finally, yes, we have a very important project in construction, the Karavasta Solar Project on 200 ha and installing a capacity of 140 MW. All this energy will be made available to Albanian consumers. The construction is progressing well as we speak, and we are confident to deliver power as of the fourth quarter of 2023.
How is the company coping with the challenges of the Albanian Market? Are there further plans for more investments in the Energy Industry?
Our company Voltalia Albanie soon will have 25 experienced employees and will continue to be supported by the competence centers of Voltalia in Paris and Porto. For me, it is key to have a competent and motivated team available, so that we can manage the ongoing construction in Karavasta well, but also continue the development of our future projects, most notably the Spitalla solar project, but also further wind and solar opportunities on which we are working intensively, but which I cannot name at this point. So, later this year and next year, we will be able to present further investments.
What improvements in your business-operating environment do you think are important for attracting more foreign investors in Albania?
Speaking in the first place about energy, I think even more foreign investment can be achieved by maximum transparency about the goals of the Government. This does not mean that the Albanian Government has not been clear. It has strongly prioritized new investments in renewable energies, in particular solar and wind. At this point in time, I believe it is helpful for the Government to confirm its objectives in this field and bring further auctions in wind and solar to the market.
But you also asked for improvements of the business climate in general. This is a field in which FIAA has been active at all times and I am happy that I have been part of it since 2020. There are always the general topics, which should never be forgotten: fight against informality, fight against corruption, continue the reform of the justice system. However, there are also legislative improvements in many fields which are important. In 2021, FIAA has presented its White Book with more than 100 proposals for legislative improvements. Government has taken the White Book very seriously and engaged in a consultation process with FIAA and other associations. But of course, not all suggestions have been dealt with, and everybody knows that legislative reforms and improvements are an on-going process. For the sake of future foreign investment, I think FIAA must remain engaged with Government for further improvement of the business climate.
In addition of your role as the Country Manager for Voltalia Albanie, you have been trusted with the role of Chairman in the FIAA Energy Industry Council. Which is the main mission of this Council and what are the current Matters in Energy Industry that the Government should focus more?
I am very glad to be able to serve the energy industry in Albania in this role and thank my industry colleagues for their trust. The purpose and task of the FIAA Energy Industry Council will be to align all industry participants on the on-going issues, which shall be presented to Government of Albania. Government needs structured feedback on its legislative initiatives. We shall provide it and will aspire to be a competent and reliable, but at times also a critical partner of Government of Albania in the field of energy policy. Main fields are the secondary legislation for the new Law on Renewable Energy, on which we will ask to be consulted. And we will present general matters of concern, such as quality and capacity of the national grid, capacity of connection points/ substations, efficiency of permitting processes, reaction times of cadaster offices and last but not least, the framework for balancing services.
As energy is a dynamic sector of high economic importance, I am happy that FIAA devotes attention to this industry by setting up this Council. It shall be a part of FIAA and always act under its roof, promoting FIAA’s mission, namely to improve the business climate and to be the true voice of the investors.