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Three new hydro-power plants to be built in Georgia

15 June 2013 10:15 (UTC+04:00)
Three new hydro-power plants to be built in Georgia

By Sabina Idayatova

Construction of three hydro-power plants is planned in the mountainous regions of Adjara, Georgia. The project was initiated by Adjara Water - Georgia LLC, according to the government of the autonomous region in the South Caucasus republic.

The first phase of the project envisages construction of the Shuakhevi-Shalta power plant, while the second phase covers hydro-power plants in Khelvachauri and Keda. The total capacity of all the three plants will be 1,200 megawatts.

The estimated cost of the project is $700 million. It is planned to export most of the generated electricity.

The project also includes construction of a 36-kilometer underground tunnel which will supply water to the central dam.

While discussing the project, representatives of non-governmental organizations in Georgia made a number of observations relating to environmental risks. The NGOs charge that construction of three hydro-power plants in the highlands could damage the ecosystem.

Representatives of Adjara Water - Georgia LLC have promised to hold a similar discussion with the participation of experts again.

Construction of hydropower plants in the highland regions of Adjara is expected to start in August this year after relevant permission is granted.

Georgia has a sizable hydroelectric power generation capacity, a factor that has become an increasingly important component of its energy supplies and policies. The country's topography and abundance of hydropower resources allow it to take the lead in the hydropower markets in the Caucasus region. The Georgian Ministry of Energy estimates that there are around 26,000 rivers within Georgian territory, with about 300 of them being significant in terms of energy production. The Ministry also says that current projects for hydro-power plants total around $2.4 billion.

The hydropower stations of Georgia produce 80-85 percent of the electricity utilized within the country, while the remaining 15-20 percent is produced by thermal power stations. According to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, so far Georgia has been using only 18 percent of its hydro resource potential.

However, Georgia's reliance on hydropower is said to leave the country vulnerable to climatic fluctuations, which requires imports to meet seasonal shortages. Georgia still has the potential to increase generation of hydro-power through refurbishing existing facilities, as well as constructing new hydropower plants.

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