Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Albanian counterpart, Sali Berisha, were on hand in December for the signing of a preliminary contract for the construction of a 500 MW wind farm on Albania's Karaburun peninsula by Italy's Moncada Energy. Company boss Salvatore Moncada signed an accord with Albanian energy minister Genc Ruli pledging to start site work in the first half of 2009 and to employ local personnel and collaborate with local firms. In exchange, the Albanian government agreed to quickly complete the authorisation process. Moncada expected to receive the final permit for more capacity on the interconnection line to Italy by the end of last month. Moncada has said it will invest EUR 1.2 billion for the wind farm and for the 400 kV, 154-kilometre long undersea cable that will allow it to transport the majority of the energy produced back to Italy. A bilateral agreement between the two countries allows electricity imported from Albania to be awarded Italian green certificates, sales of which form the backbone of Italy's robust market for green power. Albanian officials have said that some of the electricity produced from the wind farm will be reserved for use in Albania, which is also sorely in need of electricity. The poor state of Albania's transmission network, however, and frequent blackouts means that connecting large wind projects to the grid for use domestically is problematic.
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