Carbon neutral hydropower plant in Georgia
With its high mountains and over 25,000 rivers, investing in hydroelectric power plants is a priority for Georgia, since the untapped potential of this energy source, once developed, could alleviate the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and boost its energy exports to neighbouring countries and wider Europe.
Georgia’s latest such plant was constructed on the Tergi river by JSC Dariali Energy. With an installed capacity of 108 MW per hour, it is the largest post-Soviet era hydropower plant constructed in the country. Tunnel-boring machines were introduced for the first time as an alternative to the drill and blast technique to excavate medium to long tunnels.
But what makes this project even more remarkable is the launch of a reforestation programme which aims to capture CO2 and balance the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the plant’s construction and operation. This will make it the world’s first carbon-neutral hydropower plant.
This is achieved by planting and growing a forest in the river basin (a “carbon sink”) that feeds the hydropower scheme. The carbon sink will also help restore biodiversity and protect the valleys against erosion and avalanches.
In the nearby village of Stepansminda, local people have been able to follow the operation by receiving information directly from Dariali Energy thanks to regular meetings with project stakeholders.
This project has also created jobs, both during the plant’s construction and reforestation, and in terms of permanent jobs at the plant, once it becomes fully operational.