Energizing Georgia
29 November, 2012
Energizing Georgia

Over the past decade, the electricity sector of Georgia has gone under a significant transformation. The times of lasting blackouts and wide-scale electricity theft are over. Electricity is stably supplied to all towns and villages throughout the country. In 2007, Georgia became net exporter of electricity for the first time. The sector is deregulated into generation, transmission and distribution companies.


Electricity sector in Georgia is mostly privately owned and partially liberalized. Only transmission, dispatch and the largest hydro power plant
are owned by the state, whereas all the other generation assets are privately owned. In 2003 Inter RAO purchased 600-MW Mtkvari gas-fired power station from US firm AES, as a part of a deal that also saw them take control of Telasi-Tbilisi distribution company. The Czech company, Energo Pro purchased 6 medium size HPP (hydro power plants) with a total installed capacity of 361 MW in 2007.
From January 2009, Kakheti distribution company is also operated by private investors, after the Lithuanian Concern Akhema Group bought distribution assets in the region. A number of the generation assets have been privatized in recent years although most of the important generation assets such as Enguri,Tbilsresi and Vardnili remain state owned. Georgia’s electricity generation is dominated by hydro power plants as there are 26 000 rivers on the territory of the country. Turkey is the most attractive to export electricity.
There are some drawbacks of hydro-electric power: dams are extremely expensive too that must be built, and to a very high standard. The high cost of dam construction means that they must operate for many decades to become profitable. The flooding of large areas of land means that the natural environment is not very favorable. People living in villages and towns that are in the valley susceptible to floods, must move out. This means that they lose their farms and businesses. In some countries, people are forcibly removed from their dwelling places so that the hydro-power schemes can go ahead.
The building of large dams like Enguri hydro-electric power plant and dam can cause serious geological damage. For example, the building of the Hoover Dam in the USA triggered a number of earth quakes and has depressed the earth’s surface at its location. Although modern planning and design of dams is good, in the past old dams have been known as breaching certain norms. This has led to deaths and flooding. Dams built blocking the progress of a river in one country usually means that the water supply from the same river in the following country is out of their control. This can lead to serious problems between neighboring countries. Building a large dam alters the natural water table level.
Limited to ~210 sunny days per year in places like Bakuriani, partly cloudy sky above Georgia, puts under a question mark the solar energy generation large scale projects, like the Helios project in Greece, which means that Georgia should be using at maximum the hydro power generation.

 

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