The Ministry of the Economy on the defense of the Namakvani project – Civil.ge
The Ministry of the Economy mentionned on June 2, the Namakhvani hydropower plant project “is one of the best studied” in the Georgian energy sector, citing studies carried out by four consulting companies between 2007 and 2019 – all of them “confirming the feasibility” of the project.
The statement comes amid tense protests that have lasted for months in western Georgia, as those opposing the construction cast doubts on the socio-economic and environmental viability of the project, among others.
According to the Ministry of Economy, an environmental assessment funded by the World Bank in 2007 on the development of Georgia’s energy system over the next 15 years, conducted by the “Serbian-Italian” Consultants South East Europe (SEEC) company, considered that Namakhvani HPP was “the best project to add to the Georgian energy system”.
Another environmental assessment from 2015 commissioned by the Georgian Gamma Council The company said the socio-economic benefits of implementing the project far outweigh the potential damage to the country and the region, the economy ministry said.
The ministry also recalled an August 2018 energy strategy document for Georgia drafted by a global consulting firm. McKinsey & Company, who dubbed the Namakhvani project “an economically viable energy object” which “fully meets international standards”. It should be noted that then Economy Minister Giorgi Kobulia, appointed in July 2018, had previously worked for the same consulting firm for 18 years, mainly from his Moscow office.
Most recently, a 2019 EBRD-commissioned Georgian electricity market assessment conducted by the global consultancy firm NERA, said that the characteristics of the Namakhvani hydropower plant “allow the project to be built according to the so-called least cost methodology”, the tax burden being “not critical considering other positive factors of the project “, reported the Ministry of the Economy.
An analysis of the country’s past experiences in the energy sector in Concept paper for Georgia’s energy policy, commissioned by the USAID Energy Program and released on November 25, 2020, stressed that strategic decisions in the area “are not made on the basis of analysis and research of relevant and sufficient information,” adding that Georgia lacks systems and procedures “to provide experts, research, and professional decision-making support.
The Namakhvani Hydroelectric Power Plant Project in the Rioni River Valley, Western Georgia encompasses two separate hydropower plants on the Rioni River, the longest river flowing only within Georgian borders: the Lower Namakhvani hydropower plant (333 MW) and the Upper Namakhvani hydropower plant (100 MW).
Local protests focused on environmental concerns gradually turned into a major movement, with massive protests against the planned construction. Those who oppose CHE’s claim, argue that the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the project have been under-studied, among other things.
Protesters are currently demanding that the government terminate its contract with investor HPP, and that Enka renewable energies, the company behind the construction leaves the Rioni valley. Protesters also called for the opening of criminal investigations against officials involved in drafting and signing the agreement, including Economy Minister Natia Turnava, as well as to impose a moratorium on similar projects until that a coordinated energy policy is developed.
Follow our Namakhvani tag for past developments and background on the controversial project.
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