European bank eyes more work at Georgia’s 1,270-MW Enguri

With three units of the 1,270-MW Enguri Dam rehabilitated and operating, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is considering further support to fully restore Enguri, the primary source of power in Georgia.

In an August 22 report, EBRD noted it and the European Commission (EC) have been helping improve the blackout-plagued Georgia electricity system since 1997, in part by investing in Enguri. The hydro plant on the Enguri River was in urgent need of rehabilitation at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

With a US$38.75 million loan from the EBRD and a grant of 9.4 million euros (US$12 million) from the EC, Georgia carried out the rehabilitation. The work was complicated by the fact the hydro plant is on a disputed frontier of Abkhazia, a territory that has long fought for independence from Georgia. Abkhazia checkpoints allowed Georgian technicians access to Enguri in return for a pledge of free electricity.

In 2002, Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation received a 23 million euro (US$23.46 million) contract from Engurihesi Ltd. for four years of modernization work on three of the five generating units, including mechanical and electrical components such as generator stator windings and cores, governors, valve controls, and switchgear.

In March, the plant was shut down to allow restoration of the pressure gallery, valve chamber, pressure tunnel, and dam monitoring equipment. Project Manager Malkhaz Tskvitishvili said 5.3 kilometers of flooded galleries were rehabilitated.

Three Enguri units restored to service in July

All three refurbished generating units were restored to service in July, Tskvitishvili said.

EBRD said it now is considering extending its loan to cover rehabilitation of the remaining two generating units.

In other recent activity, Georgia’s Ministry of Energy recruited consultants for a strategic environmental assessment of a power generation plan for the former Soviet republic. The work is part of a World Bank-funded project to restore the 700-MW Khudoni hydropower project and establish Khudoni’s position in a power generation expansion plan. (HNN, 7/5/06)

Additionally, Czech Republic hydropower operator Energo-Pro acquired six Georgia hydroelectric projects totaling 361.4 MW in a June privatization auction. (HNN, 6/23/06) The Energy Ministry also offered investors the opportunity to build 32 small and three medium-sized hydropower stations, totaling an estimated 961.5 MW, on a build-own-operate basis. (HNN, 3/16/06)

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