"Fools and liars"- major new report slams mega-dams, as tensions rise over Georgia's Khudoni project

new report published on March 10 by a team of researchers from the University of Oxford, based on the largest ever study of large hydroelectric dams (245 in 65 countries) has found that in most cases large dams are economically not viable and few, if any, will realise their planned benefits. The study assessed the costs, construction time, and benefits of all large dams built around the world since 1934, and further concluded that the severe cost and construction delays that so often dog large dams (defined in this research as those that exceed 15 metres in height) mean they can be seriously damaging to the economies that attach so much hope to them.

In an interview with the Georgian English language media site The Financial, study researcher, Dr Atif Ansar, Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, was uncompromising in his assessment of Georgia’s plans to realise the massive Khudoni Hydro Power Plant on the Inguri River in the remote Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region.

According to Dr Ansar, as cited by The Financial on March 10: “Khudoni is huge. It is planned to have a 200-metre tall concrete double-arch-gravity dam wall along with 3 turbines with a nominal capacity of 233.3 MW each having a total capacity of 700 MW making it one of the largest dams under construction. As far as I know, the project was planned to be started in the early ’80s and it has not yet been started. This is a typical early warning for a dam disaster project – to be delayed and delayed. As a general rule of thumb, many smaller, more flexible projects that can be built and go quicker, and are more easily adapted to social and environmental concerns, are preferable to high-risk dinosaur projects like conventional mega-dams”.