Updated: Jan 7
"When we see how frequently energy security issues are changing in Europe, we have this regional potential to provide energy security, not only for the Caucasus region but also Eastern and Central Europe," explains Tornike Nikvashvili, from the Embassy of Georgia, at the Embassy Row Projects Democratizing Decarbonization Summit in Washington DC. Georgia has initiated the Black Sea Submarine Cable Project, as a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan, Romania, and Hungary, which will provide an energy connection from the Caucasus region to the European Union market, with a capacity of around 1,000 MW in each direction (USEA.org, 2022). This will allow Georgia and Azerbaijan access to the European energy markets and significantly diversify the electricity supply in Europe. The project is expected to commence construction in 2023, with a completion date of around 2029.
The European Commission sees this project as more than just connecting the South Caucasus region with the EU: “The Black Sea electric cable is a new transmission route full of opportunities.” (European Commission, 2022) “It is expected to provide energy and communication connections between the Caspian region, including Central Asia, and the European Union, bypassing the northern route through Russia and Ukraine.” explains James Scott, executive director of the Eastern European Institute for Trade. Scott continues, “As the EU moves towards renewable energy and a zero-carbon economy, this project is expected to stimulate a similar transition in the South Caucasus region – in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, and provide additional clean energy resources for the European energy market.”
Georgia has a lot to offer in this respect: it has around 300 rivers with significant hydroelectric power potential, which can provide a significant output of clean energy. This has been recognized by the Georgian government: Georgia currently has around 3500 MW of hydroelectric power generators, but there is potential to increase this 3 to 4 times. This accounts for around 85% of Georgia’s energy needs. However, since hydroelectric power generation is higher in the summer than in winter, when the power consumption is higher, Georgia requires additional fossil fuel power generation to bridge the supply-demand gap, while exporting excess electricity during the summer. Connecting Georgia to the European energy markets will allow easier electricity export during the summer and import during the winter, providing additional stability to the Georgian energy system and price stability on the energy market. In addition, it will provide an impetus for the development of clean energy resources with easy access and favorable conditions for electricity export to the EU markets. To achieve this, Georgian Energy Development Fund is offering projects with completed feasibility studies for green energy projects (hydroelectric power in particular, and also solar, wind, and geothermal).
Embassy Row Project supported NGOs such as the Eastern European Institute for Trade, NETZERO Incubator & Accelerator, and the ENVIROTECH Pre-Accelerator are working in close collaboration with Georgian, Romanian, Bulgarian, and other Black Sea region governments on energy and infrastructure projects, decarbonization technology, and international trade programs focused on bringing Western cooperation and stakeholder attention to the region.
European Commission, 2022, Statement by President von der Leyen at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding for the development of the Black Sea Energy submarine cable, Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_22_7807
USEA.org, 2022, Technical Assessment of The Submarine Electric Cable Between Romania and Georgia: Black Sea Transmission Planning Project, Available at:https://usea.org/sites/default/files/FINAL_Georgia%20Romania%20Black%20Sea%20cable%20-%20BSTP.pdf