[Opinion] : Tourism and Hydrogen, the two immense potentials for a New Albania


Albania landscape is attracting western tourists increasingly fast. Local mobilization to improve related services in the tourism sector is the next necessary step. The green energy sector should be at the top of the priority list, along with tourism in the Western Balkans country. The production of green hydrogen with electrolysis technology, together with recently discovered Natural Hydrogen in east of Albania, is the second immense potential for which Albanian authorities should begin to mobilize through co-investments in green energy sector with the Western allies for the needs of European market.

By: Skender Xhakaliu , @AmbXhakaliu

Albania’s economy, one of the most underdeveloped on the European continent, has an open perspective and is in the hands of its leadership and citizens.

The possibilities to make a new and big step in the near future in tourism and energy sectors are great, precisely at the moment of major clashes between the world superpowers of the two blocs, the countries of the West and the Russian-Chinese tandem, respectively.


The delays in the improvement of the situation in the tourism sector and its standardization with that of European countries, already seem to have been understood by those responsible in Albania, and there is an awareness of the political and business class of the sector for the necessary investments in order the number of foreign visitors in 2023 (about 10 million) be increased even further and maintained in the future.

Last year’s numbers of tourists should not cause complacency, but they should be a reminder of the much-needed improvements to the infrastructure(s) on the country’s seashores in a balanced way across the whole country, that is, not only from the middle of Albania to the south, but also to the north up to the border with Montenegro.

European tourists are impressed with the landscape of the coast in Albania, but not so much with the related services in the sector. Therefore, immediate focus should be on the quality of services in HoReCa.

The maritime tourism in Albania has its momentum, but it requires increased care now and the mobilization of the public and private sectors is needed to do the utmost to transform the country into a competitor in the quality of services with the countries of the region and of the European Union.

The importance of mountain, cultural and historical tourism should not be neglected neither. It also has its shortcomings and immediate needs for improvements.

Energy – Hydrogen

The green energy sector is an extraordinary opportunity for Albania, and precisely at the moment when developed countries are in massive mobilization for clean energy sources.

The countries of the European Union, as well as the Unites States of America and allies of the two Western powers, are already mobilizing for the production of Green Hydrogen as well.

The European Union, in its first REpowerEU document of 2022 has included Green Hydrogen in the list of concrete plans with other sources of renewable energy, and since then the funds for the necessary investments for Green Hydrogen production are piling up. The European Union has created a special bank for Hydrogen production, namely its production by splitting water (H20) into hydrogen (H2) and Oxygen (O), i.e. for electrolysis production technology and follow-up installations and facilities for transporting it to industries for its use.

This year the European Union’s plans for hydrogen production have been upgraded. From the initial amount of 20 million tonnes per year until 2030 (of which 10 million to be produced in African countries), the aim is to produce up to 35 million tons of Green Hydrogen per year for the EU market by 2040.

In the midst of EU energy plans and actions, Albania must seize the moment now and not later. Albania has over 470 km of coastline which should be used for Green H2 production.

This year, French researchers said that in Bulqiza mine, there are also reserves of Natural Hydrogen, the quantity of which still needs to be determined. Some other unofficial researches say that Natural Hydrogen can be found in other locations in Albania too.

The new discovery makes Albania with two Hydrogen potentials: the sea and the land, to become a producer of hydrogen and other products that come out of hydrogen itself, and for which the European continent needs for its green energy strategy and plans.

Until now, the issue of Green Hydrogen potential has not attracted sufficient attention in the country. But this must happen, and the Albanian authorities must mobilize now to seek western co-investors for the production of Green Hydrogen and Natural Hydrogen too.

Since Albania currently does not have its own infrastructure for domestic consumption of hydrogen, it can initially become an exporter to the EU countries, and then, in a later period, find sufficient funds for use in the domestic market as well, including for production of electricity, so that again this second production is used domestically during the periods when production capacities of hydro-power plants are smaller.

The strengthening of the tourism sector and the production of hydrogen, in parallel with the improvements and increases of other production capacities in other sectors of the economy, would gradually make Albania a much more developed economy and a strong competitor with the economies of South-Eastern Europe.

All this would make it a ‘New Albania’, with a new and increased purchasing power for its citizens, with a stabilized and strong economic and social welfare. It would make Albania respected and attractive by the Western Europe.

All that is needed for this to happen is the re-orientation of Albania’s economic policies and the mobilization of local authorities in coordination and co-investment with Western allies according to the needs of the European market, where energy, namely the resources for energy production are at the centre of current global competition and clashes between the Western bloc on the one hand and the Russian-Chinese bloc on the other.

Albania should make use of the two immense potentials NOW and not later.


(The author is the former Ambassador of Kosovo to Denmark and Germany. He is currently a member of the Presidency of the Albanian Diaspora Business Chamber)

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