Georgia to boost hydropower, creating scope to export energy

TBILISI, March 20 (Reuters) - Ex-Soviet Georgia will build a major hydropower plant with the help of a $250 million loan arranged by the International Financial Corporation (IFC), the development institution said on Friday.

The new plant will help Georgia, which is already almost self-sufficient in energy, to meet its power needs in winter and allow it to export some electricity to Turkey through a transmission line financed by the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The aim is to produce about 450 gigawatt hours of power annually, including a new 187-megawatt scheme using the Shuakhevi and Skhalta hydropower plants in the southwest Adjara region. Work on the Shuakhevi plant began in September 2013 with a target to start producing electricity in 2016.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will each provide $90 million in loans.

The IFC will invest a total $104 million, which includes a $34 million equity investment in the project company, Adjaristsqali Georgia, a joint venture between India’s Tata Power and Norway’s Clean Energy Invest (40 percent each), and the IFC (20 percent).

The World Bank will finance power transmission lines connecting the plant to Georgia’s national grid and improving power supply to the Adjara region.

Georgia’s electricity consumption in January-February was 1.9 billion kilowatt per hour, 3 percent up from the same period in 2014. It produces more than 80 percent of its electricity through hydropower. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)