Overview of the congress 2017

Hydropower opportunities in the Caspian and Central Asia

An international conference held in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 15-16 February, highlighted the significant opportunities for investment in developing the hydropower resources of the Caspian and Central Asia region. Senior government and utility officials from eight countries in the region presented ongoing and future hydropower developments in their respective countries at the congress, organised by Vostock Capital. The attendance of some 250 delegates, most notably from investors and developers, multilateral and regional development banks, and equipment suppliers, attested to the huge interest generated by developments in this region.

Opportunities for the development of greenfield hydropower projects as well as modernisation of existing assets in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kirgizia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were presented at the event. Georgia, as the host country, naturally featured prominently, testimony to its success in developing an attractive investment climate that has seen foreign investors from across the world assist in the development of its hydropower resources. The congress was opened by the Deputy Ministry of Energy of Georgia, Ilia Eloshvili, who outlined the role that Georgia could play as a regional energy hub. Increased investment in new hydropower and other forms of renewable energy would allow the country to meet its winter supply shortages, provide power to all parts of the country, whilst also allowing exports of electricity to its neighbours through ongoing projects to increase interconnections with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey. In this respect, he stressed the importance to investors of the ongoing 10-year network development plan through to 2026, which foresees investment of US$ 850 million in increasing the transmission grid by 1700 km. In terms of major future hydropower development, he highlighted the strategic projects of Khudoni, and the Nenskra, Namakhvani and Oni Cascades. Leontina Galdava of the Georgian Co-Investment Fund presented opportunities for investors to acquire stakes of up to 100 per cent from the private equity fund in the Oni Cascade and the 312-384 MW Tskhenistskali Cascade. An example of the successful development of large hydro in Georgia was presented by Bjorn Brandtzaeg, CEO of Norway’s Clean Energy Group, which in partnership with India’s Tata Power and IFC InfraVentures, is close to completing construction of the 187 MW Shuakhevi project in the southwestern region of Adjara – the largest hydropower project to be developed in Georgia since independence. Three presentations by officials of the IFC, as well as David Managadze of the EBRD and Aleksander Gareev, managing director of the Eurasian Development Bank, underlined the willingness of international financial institutions to support private sector investment in hydropower in the region.

Representatives from Central Asia presented plans for further hydropower development to ensure security of supply, supply power to remote regions and reduce fossil fuel imports for thermal power generation. Kubanych Bekov, head of strategic planning at Kyrgyzstan’s national energy holding company, welcomed foreign investors to assist the country in developing its huge hydropower potential, most notably on the river Naryn, which could host up to 34 further plants in eight cascades totalling 6350 MW and annual output of 25 TWh. The most advanced and attractive projects on the country’s main waterway are the 1860 MW Kambarata I scheme and the Upper Naryn Cascade, which would comprises four plants totalling 237 MW and annual output of 942 GWh. Kyrgyzstan is also looking to develop 48 small stations totalling 205 MW, which could help provide power to remote regions of the country. Duisen Mergaliyev, president of AES Corporation Kazakhstan, said that opportunities exist for the development of up to 480 small hydropower plants mostly in the country’s eastern and southern regions, which are in need of new capacity.

The development of two 100-130 MW plants on the river Aras on either side of the border between Armenia and Iran was one of numerous examples of regional cooperation on hydro development on transboundary rivers. Development of the Meghri project in Armenia and Gharachilar in Iran, which are to be financed and built by Iran, were described by Levon Aghekyan of the Scientific Research Institute of Armenia. Aghekyan presented two other projects that are planned to be developed in Armenia – the 66 MW Loriberd scheme on the river Dzoraget and the 75 MW Shnokh plant on the river Debed.

In addition to Georgia, Iran also featured prominently with a presentation in the plenary session by Mehdi Edalatnia of the Iran Water and Power Resources Development Company (IWPCO), part of the Ministry of Energy. Edalatnia outlined opportunities to partner with IWPCO through either a Public Private Partnership or through an EPC contractual arrangement on numerous hydropower and water supply projects in and outside Iran. Major projects planned in Iran include the 750 MW Bakhtiari and 648 MW Karun II hydropower plants as well as the Beheshabad dam and water supply project.

While much of the conference focused on investment opportunities in new plant development, Brendan Quigley, chief operations officer of Stucky, stressed the importance of regular upkeep of assets to minimize outages and avoid costly and lengthy rehabilitation further down the line. Presentations were made on the rehabilitation and modernisation of various plants including the Ust-Kamengorsk and Shulbinsk stations in Kazakhstan; the Nurek station in Tajikistan and the Bratsk plant in Russia.

source: Hydropower & Dams Issue Two, 2017

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