Electricity Consumption to Double in 2020-2030
Energy security and hydro resources, annually growing electricity consumption statistics, and growing electricity imports; how should the country promote domestic power generation, and why does Georgia fail to make good use of its huge hydro resources?
Giorgi Abramishvili, executive director of the Georgian Renewable Energy Development Association (GREDA) noted on the Business Partner TV Program that the growing state economy makes the power sector problematic, and the situation will become dramatic by 2025. As a result, Georgia’s dependence on neighboring countries will increase. This summer Georgia has, for the first time, imported electricity.
Today, we have a different situation in the country. Previously, the power deficit was recorded only during the winter, while in the summer period the country has excess power generation, as a rule. However, now Georgia’s dependence on neighboring countries is growing, Giorgi Abramishvili said.
“Economic growth requires more and more power generation, but, on the other hand, this power deficit continues to grow at a high pace, and our dependence on neighboring countries also increases, including, dependence on politicized markets, ignoring the principles of a market economy”, Abramishvili said.
Today, Georgia’s electricity consumption makes up about 13 billion kw/h. According to pessimistic, optimistic and realistic forecasts, electricity consumption will increase to 20-26 billion kw/h in 2020-2030. Consequently, consumption rapidly grows in the summer, too, as a result of tourism sector development, Giorgi Abramishvili pointed out.
“We have more hotels, more air-conditioning systems. In the summer, we had excessive electricity and in winter, the system was deficient. Now, the situation has changed. Over the past several years, our steam power plants have worked in the summer period, too. Steam power plants mean a dependence on neighboring countries, because we do not have our own natural resources, and we have to import natural gas. But this year, even the steam power plants could not generate sufficient power, and we had to begin importing electricity”, Giorgi Abramishvili said.
Georgia is a country of hydroelectric resources, and it should valuably employ its own potential. Major investments should be made in alternative energy. These steps cannot bring radical changes, and hydro’s power potential cannot be replaced, he said.
Georgia’s electricity consumption will double in 2020-2030, and the volume will hit 20-26 billion kw/h. Therefore, Georgia’s energy dependency will increase, whilst the country employs only 20% of its hydro power resources, Abramishvili noted.
“If the country manages to employ the remaining 80% of these resources, the country will not only replenish the deficit, but it will also earn 1 billion USD a year in addition. We have made the calculations, and if we employ this 80%, our power generation will hit 50 billion kw/h, that is, we will generate twice as much electricity compared to the forecast consumption in 2020-2030. This means that we will be able to satisfy domestic demand, and export 25 billion kw/h, and earn an annual 1 billion USD (about 3 billion GEL). This is a very impressive figure for a small country, Giorgi Abramishvili noted.
Implementation of hydro power projects in regions is hampered by environmentalists, on the one hand, and local residents, on the other hand, because they cannot realize the benefits that the employment of hydro resources can bring. Communication with the local population should be carried out through a large-scale communication strategy. Social situation shapes a pitiable reality and serious problems. The government should develop a large-scale communication strategy, and this communication with local residents should be carried out on all levels, Abramishvili said.
“We should not treat the issue like firefighting, but we should spotlight benefits of our projects”, Giorgi Abramishvili pointed out.
Sometimes, environmentalists stage provocative protest rallies, he noted.
“On the other hand, it is very important, and we have reiterated frequently that, regretfully, because of certain doubts, our neighboring countries may be fostering our energy dependency on them. Therefore, we should provide better jobs in this field, too, to prevent provocations. First of all, we talk about renewable resources. In the case of hydroelectric resources, the so-called Greens noted several times that Thermal Power Plant will save Georgia. Consequently, this means that our dependence on neighboring countries will increase. And it is not disputable that Thermal Power Plant are the most harmful source of power generation”, Giorgi Abramishvili said.
The GREDA Executive Director says that the country should find alternative energy sources, but there is no alternative to using Georgia’s hydro resources, because hydro resources can generate the cheapest and most stable electricity, he said.
“Naturally, we should use all sources of alternative energy, but there are several preconditions that prioritize hydro resources. The price is the first. We spend the least amount of money on renewable energy development compared to eastern European, European or Post-Soviet countries, excluding Russia and Azerbaijan, which possess their own energy resources. If we want to tackle social problems, we should remember that hydro resources are the cheapest , and solar power is the most expensive resource. Another problem we face is that wind and solar energies are the most expensive resources. Moreover, wind and solar powers are an unstable and less foreseeable resources. Its efficiency is low. Therefore, it is impossible to ensure that state energy independence based on these sources. The main thing is that the country must have reserves of power, such as steam power plants and hydro power plants, with cascades and reservoirs. We can save the power generated by HPP cascades, and this is impossible in the case of wind and solar power stations. Georgia is a country of hydro resources. We do not have huge hydro power resources, but we should fully make use of them”, Abramishvili said.