TIRANA, March 7 (Reuters) - Albania’s electricity imports soared last year as output by state-owned and private hydropower plants fell 37 percent due to a lack of rain, data showed on Wednesday.
Since the fall of communism in 1990, demand for power in Albania has risen by more than 10 percent a year on average and the country has been a net importer except for in 2016, when it briefly became a net exporter.
The Institute of Statistics said the net power produced in 2017 was 4,525 GWh, down 36.6 percent from 7,136 GWh in 2016.
To fill the gap, the country imported 3,403 GWh of electricity, up 86.3 percent from 1,827 GWh in 2016. Its exports shrank 73.9 percent to 488 GWh in 2017 from 1,869 in 2016.
Power production relies wholly on rainwater.
Almost all of the electricity in Albania is produced by its three big communist-era hydropower stations and new private ones built after 2006 when the country faced long blackouts and the government launched a drive to add new sources of energy.
Network losses of electricity, a term which covers both technical losses and theft, were down 5.5 percent in 2017, the institute said. (Reporting By Benet Koleka, Editing by Susan Fenton)