In a proposal that has alarmed neighboring Greece but elicited interest from Italy, Albania is proposing to host nuclear plants that would supply electricity across the Adriatic by way of an underwater cable.
It is one of the poorest countries in Europe, which still endures acute electricity shortages and almost daily blackouts, even in the capital.
Still, Albania is undaunted. In a proposal that has alarmed neighboring Greece but elicited interest from Italy, the country is proposing to host nuclear plants that would supply electricity across the Adriatic by way of an underwater cable.
The news emerged at an Italo-Albanian business conference in Tirana, where the prime minister, Sali Berisha, said he aimed to turn Albania into a regional energy superpower - a glorified socket on the Adriatic capable of supplying cheap electricity to Balkan neighbors and Italy.
He said the government was consulting contractors such as Westinghouse. Zana Gonxholi, an economic adviser to the Albanian government, said a Franco-Swiss consortium had prepared a plan for a nuclear plant at Drac on the north coast.
An Albanian civil nuclear program could not only help the country fill its own gaping power shortfalls, but get around popular resistance in Italy to nuclear generation. A referendum there in 1987 led to a five-year moratorium on nuclear power, and no government has since dared reopen the issue. But the idea has prompted alarm in neighboring Greece.
The daily La Stampa yesterday reported that talks had been held with the Italian grid operator, Terna, on linking the Italian and Albanian electricity networks. Pier Ferdinando Casini, a leading candidate to take over from Silvio Berlusconi as leader of the Italian right, said the chance "must not be allowed to slip".
The prime minister, Romano Prodi, is due to visit Albania for talks early next month. ( Buzzle )