Georgia has to think of alternative energy sources
14 April, 2011
Georgia has to think of alternative energy sources

Fukushima nuclear plant tragedy changed the world mentality and trends to renunciate the well-probated electricity generation sources gradually in favor of alternative green energy sources including wind, solar, and hydro potential. And Georgia also has to think of alternative wind and solar-based energy resources irrespective its ample hydro potential.
“ Japanese example showed us that traditional electricity generating plants like nuclear  and thermal plants may inflict a big damage from ecological and  security point of view, and yet we believe

that we have ample hydro power resources; however, it is not as reliable as we think due to imminent global warming,” Revaz Arveladzre, President of Energy Academy of Georgia,  told Georgian Journal.
According to him, most Georgian rivers considered as potential sites for Hydro Power Plant (HPP) construction take their origins in glaciers that may retreat in 30-50 years affecting hydro resources of Georgia.  Therefore it is time for Georgia to think of development of other renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Moreover Georgia has ample thermal water potential that can be easily used for green-house use and house heating.  
“The theoretical hydro potential is 200 billion kilowatt/hour in Georgia, but just 80 billion kwt/h is technically available and about 40-45 billion economically reasonable. The potential wind resources account for 4 trillion kwt/h meantime that by 100 times exceeds the hydro potential. The problem is only 3-4 billion kwt/h  is  technically available at the moment but  if we take into account that Georgia consumes just 8 billion kwt/h per year it is not insignificant data.  And if we utilize even 1 billion out of it will be great. I do not want to be a trouble-howler but if global warming goes ahead all this will be true,” Arveladze stressed.
Development of energy-efficient technologies tops the global agenda to help mankind to handle the imminent global warming threat. Georgia has little progress to this end for several key reasons including mentality problem: nobody cared for reasonable electricity and gas consumption for almost a century for both were almost free of charge during soviet regime. After the collapse of the regime there was electricity shortage and blackouts plus cut of gas supply up to 2004 so that there was no need to save any of them.  After 2004 electricity and gas supply problem was solved but mentality still resists: why on earth we need to buy an expensive energy-efficient bulb for GEL 15 when you can enjoy similar light of the bulb acquired for the 50 tetri?-people think. Moreover, purchase power of Georgian population is so miserable that only few could afford the expensive energy-efficiency equipments even if they were well-aware of its benefits: say insulation of house cuts down heating cost by 40-50% but it costs approximately USD 100 per square meter- a puzzle for bigger part of population 40% of which lives below poverty level.
The best world practice shows that targeted banking credits can alleviate the problem but things improve too slowly in Georgia. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in partnership with BP and its Oil & Gas Co-venturers launched a special energy-efficiency crediting project in Georgia for both corporate and household needs. The EBRD loans were disbursed to four banks including the TBC Bank, Cartu Bank, Bank Republic and Bank of Georgia, BP and its partners  are providing additional USD 1 Million grant to household to make credits more accessible: households will get back 15% of the total cost of the purchased energy efficient products and devices. However high interest rates on banking loans still keeps potential clients shun credits.
George Abulashvili, Director of Energy Efficiency Center of Georgia (EECG), that provides any willing person by free consultations on energy-efficiency issues, assures awareness and interest of society in energy-efficient issues increased starting 2009 thanks to the “Energy Bus Project”, a visual tool that brings practical demonstrations and information on energy-efficiency across Georgia and was launched in April of 2009 by BP and Energy Efficiency Center of Georgia.
Implementation and results of the Projects fell under a focus of the Week of Sustainable Energy held in Tbilisi from April 11 to 15 of 2011. According to Abulashvili, government appears more involved in the issue and number of interested people appealing to the Center for information increased to 44 thousand and 2 thousand asked for consultations within 2009-2010, both figures are much higher than the total data of applicants registered during the eleven-year practice of the Center.  However how many of them really installed energy-efficient equipments or asked for banking credits is not monitored as of yet.

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