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    Posted February 28, 2014 by
    SIPI
    Location
    Tbilisi, Georgia

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    Opinion Piece: Russia's New Energy Doctrine and Its Meaning To Georgia

     
    A rather interesting document got published recently – Russia’s new energy doctrine. Naturally, similar government documents and concepts are always overly belletristic with political-economics and contain an abundance of, as our western partners would sometimes say, completely pointless and rationally defunct bla-bla-bla. As such, these doctrines and concepts and strategies almost never catch the spotlight of wider layers of society.

    And so naturally for our society – or at least for the bigger part of it – the Russian energy doctrine, the political document representing Russia’s energy concepts and strategies, is practically alien. However, the new doctrine does contain one particularly interesting “detail”, which I think the Georgian society and more importantly the government leadership should be keenly aware of. The new doctrine emphasizes that the growth of energy capabilities from developed markets is strictly limited. It’s expected that energy resource demand will seriously increase in the coming years, from developed countries in particular. In light of all this, all efforts must be made in order to maximize the energy dependence of developing countries. Or in other words, maximize their dependence on energy carriers belonging to Russia.

    This will enable Russia to turn energetics into a more effective pressuring or blackmailing tool – political, economic or otherwise - aimed at other countries. Events currently underway in Ukraine are a clear indication of where a country can go when high energy dependence is in effect.

    It’s unfortunate that our society isn’t fully realizing the gravity on the whole issue of our country’s energetic safety and energy dependence levels on Russia. This becomes clear from the fact that the country’s most important and valuable treasure, the potential for effective utilization of hydro energy resources, is still dividing opinions. The matters of building high-capacity hydro power plants, which will have specific regulative and peak efficiency-oriented functions in addition to the basic ones and will significantly decrease energy deficiency during winter and alleviate the need for energy import, are still being fiercely debated. While these HPPs will ensure the decrease of Georgia’s energy dependence on other countries, Russia especially.

    It also must be taken into account that fully utilizing the country’s hydro energy potential and increasing hydro energy power levels will grant us significant prospects at alternating from thermal energy and replacing energy generated by thermal plants with energy generated by hydro power plants. Why? For a very simple reason – no one is against the construction of thermal plants and the general development of this entire sector, naturally, since they have a very base and important function. But we must always remember that Georgia has none of the raw materials needed to sustain thermal plants and resorts to importing them. As a result, when we’re developing the industry of thermal plants in the country and causing an increase of the energy share generated by them in the overall system, we’re also directly increasing our energy dependence levels on other countries. And that’s when by developing hydro energy and the hydro powers plant industry we’d do the exact opposite, lessening Georgia’s energy dependence on others.

    The antagonistic attitude to the hydro energy issue and certain anti-globalist vibes in a minor part of society can only be explained by three reasons:

    - Ignorance on the importance of energy independence and general lack of information regarding the dangers of energy dependence;

    - Lack of knowledge on the benefits and advantages gained by utilizing the potential of hydro energy;

    - Personal motivation and intended lobbying of outside forces and third party interests.

    The third factor is the most dangerous from the above listed. When there is a group in society, albeit a small one, which is intentionally fighting against the growth of hydro energy development and resource utilization specifically, and at the same time says nothing regarding thermal plant constructions, is really only protesting strategically important hydro energy plants and stations. They don’t think of the environment or anything affecting it, nor do they think of ecology or problems with the local populations, and turn to suspicious silence once the matters touch thermal plants. They turn to suspicious silence once Georgia’s energy dependence levels to the Azerbaijani company “Socar” start rising at an alarming rate. Dependence to a company which is practically a lone and exclusive supplier of natural gas to the country.

    Seems strange, doesn’t it? This silence and biased outlook obviously begets a number of questions and concerns.

    To be frank, I can only call what transpired during the delegation’s visit from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) in the hotel “Radisson Blu Iveria” as something intentional and determined. This was when a small group of anti-globalists practically ran up to the EBRD delegation and obstructed their meeting with government officials right in the hotel lobby. Naturally this led to apparent doubts regarding this process and the so-called protest serving certain outside force interests and goals, since the “protesters” were specifically requesting the EBRD to not invest in Georgia’s hydro energetics and hydro energy projects. And the decrease in Georgia’s hydro energy potential, halting of hydro energy projects in the country and increasing the dependence level of the energy system on other countries is precisely in the interests of Russia’s new energy doctrine.

    Levan Kalandaze
    Georgian Infrastructural Projects Initiative

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