Abkhazian electric power industry needs radical modernization

Abkhazian electric power industry needs radical modernization

In the past two years, energy security concerns have stood in the way of the development of the Abkhazian economy. Low electricity prices as one of the important incentives for creating production in the country were an attractive basis for investment projects for a long time. However, last winter's scheduled power cuts due to the low water level at Ingurskaya HPP have become a stimulating factor for the modernization of the Abkhaz energy system.

Experts say that everything should be changed, as the increased workload can become a problem for future enterprises and new tourist sites. Electricity consumption in Abkhazia annually increases by 5-9%, and the available capacity is not enough even to meet the current demand. It is obvious that it is impossible to solve the problem in a short time, since no steps have been taken in this direction during the years of independence.

Nevertheless, there are several proposals that can improve Abkhazia's energy network. During the Soviet years, the Abkhazian ASSR was rich in small hydroelectric power stations, there are three or two of them left in the Kodori Gorge and one on the Pskhu River. However, the capacities that recovered power plants can reach are still not comparable to the level of electricity consumption. The required minimum of electricity consumption in Abkhazia today is a little more than 1.5 million megawatts. The construction of new modern hydroelectric power stations can give a tangible effect, but this will require impressive investments, which Abkhazia does not have.

There's talk of the need to review the current legislation, namely, introduce amendments to the law "On Energy." The leadership of Abkhazia thus intends to solve the energy industry problems due to Russian investments. The republic believes that the current energy deficit can be covered through the flow of electricity from the Krasnodar Territory, but this requires the construction of new high-voltage lines. In this case, Abkhazia's energy security is dependent on Russia, confirming the fact that at the moment there is neither program to create an independent Abkhaz energy system, nor realistic plans to solve current energy problems.

Obviously, to start with, a concrete, well-calculated plan for the restoration of the Abkhaz energy is needed. In this case, Abkhazia can benefit from the experience of Turkish hybrid power stations that use solar and wind energy. In other words, Abkhazia should think about the development and implementation of alternative energy projects. Given Abkhazia's past, in which the once autonomous republic was an all-Union resort, as well as its climatic conditions, it is worth trying to use solar energy to partially replace traditional types. Of course, solar panels are not cheap, but they can prove to be a reliable alternative in places with unstable operation of centralized power networks. As for wind energy, which has proved itself in Europe (both in mountainous areas and in coastal zones), its price remains high as well.

They should not rely solely on wind and solar energy as a full-fledged alternative to the Inguri HPP, while the creation of a system of small hydropower plants can take a long time. Given the importance of this sphere for the tourist infrastructure, work needs to begin now to prevent the chronic energy crisis.

Support for Abkhazia's energy security can be provided by Georgia, since the Inguri HPP is in joint operation of both states. In 1992, an agreement was reached on the distribution of electricity generation from the Inguri hydroelectric station in proportion of 60% (Georgia) and 40% (Abkhazia). In joint energy projects are developed or the HPP capacities are distributed, it is likely that some of Abkhazia's energy costs will be filled, which will be confirmed by the previously stated course of the Georgian leadership on rapprochement with the former autonomy.