U.N. to help expand Georgia clean energy, including small hydro

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has pledged to help expand a clean energy pilot program throughout Georgia bringing small hydropower and other energy projects to isolated areas.

UNDP officials and Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources met April 17 to review a pilot program that was implemented in Georgia’s mountainous Racha Region.

With a budget of US$227,381, the two-year initiative benefitted more than 200 families and a number of small businesses in the Oni and Ambrolauri districts. The program encouraged development of micro-hydropower plants as well as solar panels, biogas digesters, and high-efficiency wood stoves.

�We stand ready to continue our cooperation with the ministry and replicate this initiative throughout the country,� UNDP’s resident representative, Robert Watkins, said.

Other UNDP programs in Georgia are promoting small hydropower. The agency allotted US$13.63 million to Georgia to help remove barriers to the use of renewable energy for local energy supply, particularly small hydropower and geothermal energy.

UNDP said that program focused on rehabilitation of up to eight privately owned small hydropower plants by providing soft loans to the owner-operators.

A third program provided US$1 million for a pilot program to rehabilitate or build community-owned small hydro projects. Those projects included rehabilitation of the 300-kW Khani project in Baghdati Region, construction of the 500-kW Pshaveli project in Telavi Region, and construction of the 45-kW Chiora project in Oni Region.

UNDP said, taking into account additional investment opportunities for new small hydro plants, it is estimated to be possible to build 160 small hydro projects in Georgia totaling 650 MW with an annual output of 3.9 billion kWh.

The agency said as a result of a long tendency toward building large-scale projects, the number of small hydro projects operating in the 1960s has declined from 300 to 40. Of the existing 40, many operate at low efficiency or not at all.

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