“We will bring to Albania the most advanced technologies available in the solar industry”.
FIAA: Voltalia chose to enter the Albanian Energy Renewable market in 2020. Could you tell us why in the Photovoltaic Energy?
Mr. Mulliez: Photovoltaic is the cheapest way to produce electricity in the world and it happens that Voltalia is doing business in the renewable energy, which includes solar photovoltaic (and also wind, storage, biomass and hydro).
As Voltalia has entered the Albanian market during a very unusual year (2020), what were/are the difficulties you faced during this first year? What are the most significant project challenges that you have to overcome?
It was indeed dramatic for many people around the world, and we are confident that the vaccine will be deployed efficiently in order for people to recover their lifestyle, hopefully in a more transitioned. Getting back to Voltalia, for us, it was actually a year of great achievements where we managed to secure a triple 1 000. We reached a 1000 MW of installed capacity worldwide, 1000 MW of long term power sales contracts in 2020 alone and the total staff also surpassed 1000 co-workers. Particularly in Albania, we were awarded the Karavasta Solar project, a power plant of 140 MW that will harness the sun and convert it into the cheapest electricity available for the Albanians at 24.89 EUR per MWh. This is the result of a strong commitment from all and a good team-spirit despite the home-office. We were able to meet all requirements while administrations and offices were under lockdown and we are very proud to be in Albania today.
You are new in Albania, which are your impressions of the current business environment in our country? What challenges are you facing?
With the Karavasta tender, Albania has shown once more that it was ready to welcome foreign investors. I have no doubt that the solar photovoltaic industry as well as the upcoming wind projects will continue to attract European and American companies in the country while the new power market unfolds. It’s an evidence to me. As far as other sectors are concerned, I see a lot of potential everywhere: ecotourism, agroforestry, education, health care and IT, just to name a few.
What improvements in your business operating environment do you feel are critical to attract more foreign investment in Albania?
Well, we have a policy to work with local companies each time it is possible and that’s exactly what we have been doing. On the other hand we will bring to Albania the most advanced technologies available in the solar industry. In the end, the Karavasta solar plant will be handed over to the Albanian government at the end of the concession and we must select the most long lasting equipment. Having said that and to answer your question more clearly, it is important for the successful unbundling of the Albanian power sector and the successful implementation of the new regulatory framework that the government observes the European Standards. The European standards in the electrical sector have proven to attract large investments in the EU where large player are now thriving. So why shouldn’t it be the case in Albania?
What are your investment plans for the next 2-3 years?
My program for the 2-3 coming years is to effectively commission the Karavasta solar photovoltaic plant in time, budget and performance. In Albania, we are also working on additional opportunities, on which we adopted the exact same strategy as for Karavasta. Personally, I will also invest my time in recruiting and consolidating the local team at Voltalia Albanie, settled our corporate culture in accordance with Voltalia way of doing business and etc. That being said, we are recruiting! Our Concession agreement goes until 2053, so the 2-3 first years are key to the long term establishment.