Nenskra hydropower plant, Georgia

For the last decade, the government of Georgia has promoted hydropower as a way of tackling energy security and turning the country into a regional energy player. The EBRD has been one of the key catalysts of this hydro boom. Yet the presence of the EBRD and other international financial institutions has not been enough to ensure the development of comprehensive energy strategies, robust project assessments and meaningful public consultations. The potential for social and environmental problems is therefore prevalent. The Nenskra hydropower plant is yet another project that lacks the proper assessment and has failed to gain acceptance from the local communities. 

Currently there are 114 hydropower plants (HPPs) in Georgia, including 11 dams, slated for construction. Dozens of additional plants have been identified as potential investment opportunities, resulting in an unclear mix of conflicting projects that may place an excessive burden on the environment and people’s livelihoods. The combination of weak environmental legislation and the lack of strategic plans has enabled the Georgian government to rush forward concessions on 64 plants since the adoption of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement in June 2014. The major impediments to thoughtful and accountable hydropower development include.