Bioenergy can be a determinant of the competitiveness of Albanian indoor farmers, and some are already expecting to reap the benefits of alternative sources of energy.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) recently wrote about a pilot project with Albanian farmers in Lushnja, who are including bioenergy technologies on greenhouse farming.
Switching from fossil fuels to bioenergy not only reduces greenhouse emission, but it also fuels economic growth.
Biomass heating boilers are used instead of old diesel boilers. They burn olive pits taken from a local olive oil mill. Other biomass sources include wood, sawdust, bark, agricultural waste, etc.
All these sources of energy are cheaper and environmentally friendly compared to fossil fuels. The cost of olive pomace per ton is Euro 100 and a greenhouse needs about 20 tons per year.
According to UNIDO, one of the farmers in Lushnja that is using two biomass boilers in tomato greenhouses is going to have three harvests per year instead of two.
Currently, Albania ranks first in the region for the volume of tomatoes exported to the European Union (EU). They are exported fresh without having to be frozen. The farmer from Lushnja said for UNIDO that largest part of his greenhouse’s production is exported to Germany by truck. The produce reaches its destination fresh, thus the farmer can sell them at a higher price.
The high cost of the biomass boilers can discourage farmers given that one costs €75,000. The farmer from Lushnja was able to afford them because of the support offered by a project implemented UNIDO in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and loan from a second-tier bank that’s part of the project.
On his part, Mark Draeck, an Industrial Development Officer at UNIDO said that they expect the uptake of biomass in the industry to not only reduce Albania’s greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels but also to increase the country’s competitiveness and create employment.
“Currently, ten enterprises have completed the application process for UNIDO support. The project hopes to involve at least 15 enterprises as pilot projects that will serve as examples to encourage other financial institutions, local banks, and local governments to support similar initiatives in the rest of Albania,” UNIDO says.