Natural Resources of Georgia by Alexander G. Tvalchrelidze

   During the XX century natural resources of Georgia were thoroughly investigated by the special Council of the Georgian Academy of Sciences on Natural Resources, which in late fifties - early sixties issued a multi-volume Monograph: "Natural Resources of the Georgian SSR" [1] . Nevertheless, nowadays we have to re-consider not only the existing empiric data but also the approach to the governmental management of natural resources and methods of their economic evaluation and appraisal.
1. Macroeconomic Definition of the Resource Base
The short and tragic history of our independent statehood reveals a simple but important fact: after collapse of the USSR and first steps in free-market economic relations of the Newly Independent States, macroeconomic approach to the resource base and its governmental management have to be reviewed. According to the classical definition  [2], the resource base implies a totality of natural resources of a given territory, which may be exploited or used otherwise under stated economic conditions and currently feasible technology or technology which will be feasible in the near future.
In the Soviet Union the resource base has always been considered as a political-economic category helping the enormous country to survive and to develop independently from civilized world, beyond the rigid iron curtain. Nowadays the resource base must be considered as an independent, immanent value that takes part in the world market processes and determines production of goods with the exactly evaluated prices and costs. In other words, the resource base entirely or any of its parts may be considered as a specific form of tangible property, taking part in market processes with all corresponding consequences: form the macroeconomic point of view the resource base or any of its parts may be sold, alienated, leased, landed, mortgaged, taken as warranty, given for exploitation, according to existing legislation, to any physical or legal person, etc.
2. Exogenous Energetic Resources
   Fig. 1 contains general information on Georgian exogenous energetic resources (hydroresources, solar & wind resources). Table 1 describes distribution of Georgian hydroresources in different river valleys  [3]. It could be seen that only 19.45% of technical hydroresources are exploitable by existing hydroelectric plants. Nevertheless, these plants, in case of rehabilitation may provide 13.3 billion KWh per annum or, in other word, entirely satisfy national demand in electricity.

   Two main circumstances prevent effective usage of hydroresources: " Main hydroelectric plants are depreciated and obsolete and need urgent rehabilitation. Necessary investments are evaluated to be as much as 1 billion USD.
  • Distribution of existing hydroelectric power is not even. Georgia is characterized by exceeded power in summer period and lack of necessary resources in winter: it is known that power of hydroelectric plants falls on 60% in this season.
  •    Fig. 1: Exogenous Energetic Resources of Georgia

    The existed hydroelectric infrastructure of Georgia has been inherited from the "soviet" macroeconomic model and, namely the famous "GOELRO" project. Famous Lenin's expression that "Socialism is the soviet power plus electrification of the overall country" determined implementation of gigantic projects. From this point of view, construction of the Enguri hydroelectric plant with the highest dam in the world was feasible taking into account the overall USSR energy infrastructure: the plant could provide electricity with power of about 1,200 MW in summer period whereas in winter time Georgia was thought to be supplied either with electricity from the Northern Caucasus via a 500 kV strategic electric line "Caucasus" or with gas for the Gardabani thermal electric plant. After Georgia obtained independence, these facilities became almost useless. Take a look of Table 1, which describes distribution of hydroenergy resources according to potential capacity of the Georgian rivers. It could be easily seen that 65.6% of hydroresources are exploitable by medium and small hydroelectric plants whereas 39.1% of them - by small (<10 MW) plants only. Thus, the approach to development and governmental management of the Georgian hydroenergy infrastructure is to be entirely reconsidered.

       Table 1: Distribution of Potential Hydroresources versus Power of Rivers

    Power of Rivers, kW Number of Rivers Total Power
    in 1000 kW in %
    > 500,000 6 5,326 34.4
    100,000 - 200,000 24 4,104 26.5
    50,000 - 100,000 33 2,426 15.6
    20,000 - 50,000 66 2,134 13.7
    10,000 - 20,000 64 949 6.1
    5,000 - 10,000 60 432 2.8
    < 5,000 66 147 0.9
    The low efficient hydroenergy infrastructure could be proven by Fig. 2, which describes density of hydroenergetic resources in Georgia and other countries of the Former USSR. It could be seen that Georgia is a richest country among the former USSR republics, and one of the richest state in the world. And only the above-mentioned "socialistic" approach to usage of hydroresources has caused dramatic exhaustion of existing basic equipment and actual sad reality of the huge energy crisis.

    Helioresources of Georgia are also very important. Sun radiance on Georgian territory is equal to 1014 kW/h per annum. This figure exceeds 2,000 times the needed national amount of energy  [4]. Fig. 1 describes zones where construction of any equipment of sun energy processing is feasible including electric plants. Such plants, as known, are expensive enough as based on photoelectric conduction principle. Table 2 contains information on the above-mentioned zones.

       Table 2: Features of Helioresources of Georgia Within Zones with Highest Reserves

    Direct radiation on a horisontal plane, kWh/m² Total radiation, kWh/m² Duration of sun shining, h Working duration of
    sun energy equipment, h
    July Year July Year July Year July Year
    120-140 >850 195 1575 310 2350 2100 6600

    Page1 end