The Namakhvani Hydropower Cascade is a system of two plants with a total capacity of 433 MW and a potential yearly generation of 1496 mln. kWh (around 13% of the total generation in 2020). The HPP has been designed for the river Rioni, to be built just 20 kilometers or so from Kutaisi, one of the largest cities in Georgia. The project is operated by the Norwegian Clean Energy Group, with 10% shares, and the Turkish industrial conglomerate, ENKA Insaat ve Sanayi AS, holding 90%.
In 2020, Georgian power plants generated 11,160 mln. kWh of electricity. This represents a 6% decrease in total generation, compared to the previous year (in 2019, total generation was 11,865 mln. kWh). The decrease in generation on a yearly basis comes from decrease in hydro (-8%) and thermal power (-1%), more than offsetting the increase in wind power generation (+7%).
According to the last four years’ data, Georgia has a chronic electricity deficit in ten months out of twelve, with the country showing an electricity surplus only in May and June (and, occasionally, in April and/or July). Despite the COVID-19 crisis dampening electricity demand in the country, 2020 was no exception. After two months – May and June – characterized by a positive generation-consumption gap, starting from July 2020 Georgia has been generating less electricity than required to cover consumption.
News of the conflicts between the local population and the construction company involved in the construction of a small HPP in the Pankisi valley (Khadori 3) has recently made it into the headlines. Khadori is a small HPP with an installed capacity of 5.4 MW and an estimated annual generation of 27.5 mln. kWh. Construction of the Khadori 3 HPP started on 21 April, however, the local population resisted the project, and consequently, its company involved law enforcement officials to ensure its secure implementation.
Winter has always been a problem for the Georgian electricity system. Even though Georgia has plenty of hydropower, during this season several HPPs — seasonal and small — either stop or substantially reduce electricity generation. In this season, a significant share of hydropower generation comes from two large-scale state-owned pumped-storage HPPs: Enguri and Vardnili. However, exactly when the generation-consumption gap is the largest, most of the electricity produced is used to satisfy the consumption of the Abkhazia region, which on a yearly basis consumes as much electricity as Tbilisi, something we have mentioned in one of our previous articles.