Georgia has immense untapped hydro resources – it is assumed that only 20% of total hydro potential is utilized
The Georgian electricity sector has been deregulated over the last decade. Meaning, the players of the sector can choose their market and the price in which they are willing to sell. The state electricity company has been unbundled into generation, transmission and distribution companies. The generation and distribution sectors are mostly privately owned. An independent regulator, GNEWRC, regulates the sector while the Ministry of Energy sets policies and is responsible for facilitating large investment projects.
Generation is dominated by hydropower, The 1300-MW Enguri HPP with an annual generation of 3,1-3,3 TWh is the most important generation asset in Georgia, providing 35-40% of total generation in the system in a year. There are 13 licensees and 25 low- capacity power plants in Georgia. Among them, only “Engurhesi” and “Vardnilhesi” have remained in the state ownership.
The total installed capacity of the country is around 3300 MW and the average annual output equals to 10 billion KWh. 90% of the domestic demand for electricity is satisfied with the existing hydropower plants. After the launch of the new HPPs, this figure will increase to 100%.
HPPs have been developed with limited reservoir storage capacity. Approximately 10% of annual generation can be placed in storage compared with, e.g., 70% in Norway, which also has a hydro-based electricity system.
Hydropower plants, apart from being cost-effective and the main prospective domestic energy producers in Georgia, are recognized as environmentally friendly renewable energy sources.
Hydropower is among the most profitable industries in Georgia. With over 26,000 rivers, the country has the estimated potential of generating 32 TWh per year, if 80% of Georgia’s untapped hydro resources are harnessed, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
With this big potential in mind, the Georgian government has initiated efforts to attract investments in the energy sector in order to build up to 50 new small and medium size hydropower stations, together with large-scale plants and develop the necessary infrastructure for its proper exploitation. Determined to position the country as a future regional renewable energy hub, the government’s long-term plan, as per the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, is to export hydropower to Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Russia.
Electricity transmission and transits are carried out by the two transmission licensees:
- Listed in the fixed assets of “Georgian State Electrosystem” are 35–110–220 kV transmission. GSE is owned 100 % by the state.
- JSC “Sakrusenergo” manages the 220/330/500 kV transmission lines.
Georgian electricity system is connected to the four neighbouring countries’ power grids through the transmission lines.
CBW put together a list of the 10 most powerful HPPs in the country, See our Infographics: