Energy security agenda for Georgia and the path towards an inte­grated European energy market

Foto: Imago Images

The second series of input papers for the project “Eastern Part­ner­ship Plus” deals with the question of the depen­dence of the three asso­ci­ated countries on energy imports and a better inte­gra­tion into the European energy market.

Nana Pirt­skhe­lani, Inde­pen­dent Energy Expert, Georgia



Georgia’s desire for full member­ship of the European Union is clearly manifest in its will­ing­ness to enhance its coop­er­a­tion with the EU in the energy field. For three decades, Georgia’s active partic­i­pa­tion in energy activ­i­ties involving the use of variety of collab­o­ra­tive tools has demon­strated the country’s desire to join the unified European energy system and contribute to regional energy-security goals. The recent devel­op­ments relating to the prospect of candidate status for Georgia, alongside Ukraine and Moldova, were another confir­ma­tion of this aspi­ra­tion. In the process of dramatic and dynamic changes, Georgia continues to enhance regional energy coop­er­a­tion through diver­si­fying supply sources, suppliers, and supply routes.

It is worth noting that the ongoing Russian military aggres­sion in Ukraine has had a signif­i­cant impact not only on the formation of Ukrainian energy security policy but also on that of other European countries as well. The relates partic­u­larly those countries that consume more energy than they produce, as they are partic­u­larly vulner­able to the use of energy supply as an instru­ment of political pressure. Thus, ensuring the security of supply by reducing import depen­dence and enhancing sustain­able devel­op­ment has become a signif­i­cant energy policy challenge for every European country. Rele­vantly, the need for a coor­di­nated energy policy was put on the agenda. In this context, the “Asso­ci­ated Trio” (Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia) took on partic­ular impor­tance for the European Union as strategic energy partners, and more emphasis began to be placed on their role in ensuring supply security.

Georgia on the map of energy-supply security challenges

The EU Joint Commu­ni­ca­tion entitled “Eastern Part­ner­ship Policy Beyond 2020″ sets out proposals aimed at the creation of a broader framework for coop­er­a­tion and placing greater priority on energy issues. In line with this, new condi­tions for meeting its oblig­a­tions under the Asso­ci­a­tion Agreement and beyond it were set out for Georgia, as a bene­fi­ciary of the EU financial assis­tance. With regard to energy, strength­ening supply security and supporting sustain­able devel­op­ment measures emerged as the most critical topics in this context.

It is worth noting that Georgia has faced energy crises since the beginning of the 21st century and has iden­ti­fied security of supply as a vital objective of its national energy strategy. When discussing the security chal­lenges being faced and ways to overcome them, it is essential to review the mix of Georgia’s energy produc­tion and consump­tion, identify the extent of depen­dence on imported energy, and further review strategic goals with respect to dealing with the over­whelming challenges.

It should be empha­sised that hydro resources account for the greatest share of the country’s energy potential. However, only 22% of Georgia’s hydropower capacity is currently under exploita­tion (potential capacity is 15 000 MW). Conse­quently, despite the fact that hydropower accounts for around 73% of elec­tricity produc­tion from domestic sources, elec­tricity generated by imported natural gas still dominates in terms of total final energy consump­tion[1].

The energy mix domestic energy produc­tion is as follows: approx­i­mately 67.9% of Georgia’s domestic energy produc­tion (1.043 Mtoe in 2020) comes from hydro (0.709 Mtoe), 22% from biofuels/​waste (0.227 Mtoe), 3.8% from coal (0.040 Mtoe), 3.1% from crude oil (0.031 Mtoe), 2.5% from renew­ables (0.026 Mtoe), 0.7% from natural gas (0.007 Mtoe)[2]. Due to the low rate of util­i­sa­tion of hydro resources and increased domestic demand, the country has been forced to import expensive energy products and is heavily dependent on imported oil and gas.

According to the latest statis­tical data, energy imports are used to cover about 89.6% of the country’s total energy demand. Natural gas makes up the largest share of these imports (about 57.6%), followed by oil resources (about 33.9%), imported coal and elec­tricity account for the rest. Imports account for 99.4% (2,504 million cubic meters, up 0.9 percentage points from last year) of the natural gas consumed, with local produc­tion accounting from only the remaining part 0.6%. The Republic of Azer­baijan is the primary source of imported natural gas (91%), about 9% of it comes from Russia.[3] Georgia is also involved in transit activ­i­ties as well as enhancing natural gas transit flows from Azer­baijan to Turkey (via the SCP pipeline) and from Russia to Armenia (via the NSMP pipeline).

Almost all oil products consumed in Georgia are imported. Unlike the case with natural gas, oil import sources are quite diver­si­fied. Georgia’s Union of Petroleum Importers reported that oil imports in the first half of 2021 came mainly from Romania (23.4% of total imports), Turk­menistan (23.0%), Russia (20.6%), Azer­baijan (17.7%) and Bulgaria (10.8%), with addi­tional imports from Greece (2.1%), Turkey (1.5%), Kaza­khstan (0.5%) and other countries.[4] The transit flows through the territory of Georgia via the BTC and WREP pipelines give the country addi­tional oppor­tu­nity to diversify import sources. As for coal, the primary import market is the Russian Feder­a­tion. Coal accounts for only a 4.3% share of total energy imports, and only a 3.9% of the country’s total energy demand.[5]

Georgia is actively involved in elec­tricity export-import activ­i­ties on a regional level. It has energy trading relations with all its neigh­bouring countries (Armenia, Azer­baijan, Russia, and Turkey). With a total installed capacity of 4536.5 MW, the country is capable of exporting elec­tricity in the summer months, a period of surplus produc­tion. However, generally, the country is char­ac­terised by a negative trade balance. In 2021, Georgia imported a total of 2006.2 million kWh of elec­tricity. Russia supplied 1244.9 million kWh of that total. Abkhazia was the desti­na­tion of 79% of the elec­tricity from Russia (992.7 million kWh), due to a drastic reduction in local elec­tricity produc­tion resulting caused by the shutdown of the Enguri HPP for repairs (the Enguri plant normally provided almost 90% of Abkhazia’s supply). Georgia also imported 600.1 million kWh (29.9% of total imports) from Azer­baijan and 161.2 million kWh. (8% of total imports) from Turkey in 2021. No elec­tricity imports from Armenia were reported in 2021.[6]

To sum up, iden­ti­fying import depen­dence as a signif­i­cant challenge, the country’s energy strategy focuses on ensuring unin­ter­rupted supply at an afford­able price as a primary task with a view to energy security. Several important activ­i­ties expected to enable the country to signif­i­cantly increase its degree of energy security by 2030 have been identified.



Security of energy supply from the perspec­tive of the EU-Georgia cooperation

In the context of high import depen­dence, the low util­i­sa­tion rate of local resources, season­ality of hydropower potential, lack of critical reserves, and risks related to the reli­a­bility of energy infra­struc­ture, security of supply has been iden­ti­fied as the primary energy challenge facing the country. The imple­men­ta­tion of activ­i­ties aimed at ensuring afford­able, reliable, and unin­ter­rupted supply has been the primary objective in the energy strategy, and a variety of measures are underway:

  • Maximum util­i­sa­tion of local hydro resources to reduce depen­dence on imports has become a top priority for the country. Seven small HPPs, with a total installed capacity of 23.5 MWh, opened in Georgia in 2021 bringing the total installed HPP capacity to 4.5 GWh. Another ten new hydropower plants, with an installed capacity of approx­i­mately 30 MW, are expected to go on-line in 2022. The reha­bil­i­ta­tion of existing HPPs is another goal of the energy strategy. In 2021, the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Enguri HPP, was accom­plished with substan­tial assis­tance from European financial insti­tu­tions (EIB and EBRD). This resulted in a signif­i­cant reduction of losses and an increase in the stability and security of the power system, as Enguri HPP is one of the country’s largest HPPs, providing more than 35% of the country’s total elec­tricity supply.
  • Devel­oping other renew­ables was iden­ti­fied as the primary goal in terms of security of supply. Currently, 12 potential solar power plant projects and 18 potential wind power projects have been iden­ti­fied (currently, only one wind power plant, with a capacity of 20.7 MW, operates in Georgia). There are plans to develop a total capacity of 1200 MW in wind and 500 MW in solar power plants by 2030. Overall, by 2030, the share of renew­ables in the projected, fore­casted capacity of elec­tricity is expected to increase to 17%.[7] To encourage the renewable energy market, Georgia developed and estab­lished the so-called “Premium tariff” in 2021, which involves the payment of an addi­tional 1.5 cents/​kWh for the purchase of elec­tricity generated from renewable energy sources. With regard to diver­si­fi­ca­tion of supply sources and elim­i­nating supply shortages, a pilot project to explore the potential of green hydrogen in Georgia will launch in 2022, according to a Decla­ra­tion of Intent signed with KfW.
  • Due to the potential for grid stability issues and inter­rup­tions asso­ci­ated with an increasing share of renew­ables in the grid, several activ­i­ties aimed at creating system reserve capac­i­ties, strength­ening the trans­mis­sion network, and building up the inter-system trans­mis­sion infra­struc­ture have been iden­ti­fied for imple­men­ta­tion. Over the next ten years, the installation/​building of 500/​400/​220/​154/​110 kV trans­mis­sion lines and substa­tions in Georgia is planned, in order to create a backup system, increase the reli­a­bility of trans­mis­sion infra­struc­ture, reduce network losses and transfer new capac­i­ties.[8] To ensure network security, several sub-projects (construc­tion and reha­bil­i­ta­tion of 561 km of trans­mis­sion lines and 13 substa­tions) were defined and launched in the power sector of Georgia under the new 3‑year Energy Network Improve­ment Programme (ENIP – total cost EUR 325 mill.), financed with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany via KfW, EBRD and EU NIF.
  • The devel­op­ment of stable and reliable connec­tions on the regional level remains one of the main prior­i­ties with regard supply security. To this end, the construc­tion of high trans­mis­sion lines and substa­tions connecting neigh­bouring countries is planned. However, the fact that the power systems of neigh­bouring countries operate in three different synchro­nous zones remains a major challenge. ENTSO‑E’s Conti­nental Europe Synchro­nous Area extends eastwards only to Turkey– the only country in the grid that shares a border with Georgia. However, as a contracting party in Europe’s Energy Community, Georgia adapted ENTSO‑E Network Code, which will enable the country to join the European Energy System in the future and partic­i­pate in the elec­tricity trading scheme.

Another project from the “List of Projects of Common Interest” was launched in 2021 with the support of the EU with a view to phys­i­cally connecting Georgia up with the European grid: the feasi­bility study for the Black Sea Trans­mis­sion Cable Project. The project aims to construct an undersea high-voltage trans­mis­sion cable connecting the power systems of Georgia and Rumania. However, ongoing military activ­i­ties in the Black Sea pose a major obstacle to implementation.

  • Regarding regional coop­er­a­tion in the gas and oil field, Georgia is actively involved in devel­oping alter­na­tive routes for the transport of energy sources from the Caspian Region through the Black Sea to the EU markets, in order to increase energy security in the region and establish more effective tools for future coop­er­a­tion. In addition to the physical transit pipeline projects (AGRI, White Stream, EAOTC), Georgia intends to enhance its LNG transit capa­bil­i­ties. The construc­tion of an LNG terminal in Georgia near the Black Sea coast will further promote the delivery of Caspian resources to the European markets.[9]
  • As part of its Energy Community oblig­a­tions, Georgia must create strategic reserves to strengthen system capacity. The construc­tion of under­ground gas storage (UGS) was iden­ti­fied as a crucial step in this area. A UGS construc­tion project will be launched in 2022. The facility, which be able store up to 300 mill. cubic meters of natural gas, is slated for commis­sioning in 2025. With the financial support of KFW and EIB, the project will enable the country to avert some energy crises and enhance supply reli­a­bility in the future. It is worth mentioning that the Security of Supply State­ments pertaining to elec­tricity, oil, and natural gas that Georgia adopted in line with its oblig­a­tions under the Energy Community treaty iden­ti­fied the lack of strategic reserves as the main challenge in terms of supply security and committed itself to relevant measures to meet this challenge.

National legisla­tive approach toward sustain­able devel­op­ment goals 

In recent years, Georgia has under­taken a number of legisla­tive reforms in the energy sector with a view to future regu­la­tory harmon­i­sa­tion of Georgia with the EU energy market, mainly influ­enced by the EU-Georgia Asso­ci­a­tion Agreement and Energy Community treaty commit­ments, which obliged Georgia to implement the direc­tives of Energy Community’s third energy package. Specif­i­cally in the period from 2019 to 2022, the following legis­la­tion was adopted with the aims of market liber­al­i­sa­tion, clean energy expansion, and sustain­able devel­op­ment: Law on Energy and Water Supply; Law on Renewable Energy Sources; Law on Energy Effi­ciency; Law on Energy Labelling; Law on Energy Perfor­mance of Buildings.

In addition to these statutes, sectoral action plans and secondary legis­la­tion intended to promote sustain­able devel­op­ment were adopted: the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP); National Energy Effi­ciency Action Plan (NEEAP); Ten-Year Devel­op­ment Plan for Georgian Gas Trans­mis­sion Network 2021–2030; Ten-Year Power Trans­mis­sion Network Devel­op­ment Plan of Georgia 2021–2031; National Sustain­able Energy Action Plan (NSEAP).

Regarding the NSEAP, it should be empha­sised here that the plan under­lines activ­i­ties aimed at improving energy effi­ciency and savings in elec­tricity and natural gas trans­mis­sion and distri­b­u­tion systems. In this direction, a process to overhaul the country’s gas metering stations is underway. To decrease import volumes, the “Gardabani‑2”, a 230 MW combined cycle gas turbine thermal power plant with a unique energy-saving effect, was built in 2020. Its design effi­ciency is 55.6% (approx­i­mately 150–160 million cubic meters of annual natural gas savings). Construc­tion of two more efficient power plants is slated for comple­tion by 2025. Taken together, these projects will make it possible for the country to save 20% of projected import volumes by 2030.[10]Reha­bil­i­ta­tion and new construc­tion at critical sections of the main gas pipelines and power trans­mis­sion lines are also underway to address losses in the network.

With respect to sustain­able devel­op­ment, important steps toward market liber­al­i­sa­tion were taken during 2020–2022. The natural-gas market operator Georgian Gas Exchange LLC was estab­lished; the Govern­ment adopted the Natural Gas Market Concept; new rules for natural gas market partic­i­pants were defined; and the New Elec­tricity Market Model Concept was adopted. Over the course of 2020, several pieces of secondary legis­la­tion, mainly related to elec­tricity trading on the exchange market, were adopted; the Connec­tion Network Codes and the distri­b­u­tion network rules were approved, and an elec­tricity trans­mis­sion system operator was certified and licensed. Unbundling measures were iden­ti­fied and are slated for imple­men­ta­tion in the elec­tricity and gas sector by 2026.[11]

Moving to a climate-neutral future, the concept of trans­forming Georgia into the “Clean Elec­tricity Hub” remains a priority for regional inte­gra­tion. Georgia’s desire to promote clean energy produc­tion with the goal of a low-carbon future will make it possible to extend export capac­i­ties to all neigh­bouring countries. Relevant steps necessary to support the imple­men­ta­tion of Georgia’s commit­ments under the Sustain­able Devel­op­ment Goals have been taken. In 2019 Georgia started to develop its “Climate Change Strategy 2030” and Climate Change Action Plan, which are supposed to be finalised in 2022. In 2020, the country launched the Long-Term Low Emissions Devel­op­ment Strategy 2050.[12] Georgia, a hydro-potential-rich country, is one of the countries that are most vulner­able to climate change. Therefore, the country intends to share a common aspi­ra­tion toward imple­menting the European Green Deal prin­ci­ples and will support the imple­men­ta­tion of reforms in the energy and envi­ron­ment sectors.

Conclu­sions and recommendations

As the analysis of Georgia’s energy security chal­lenges has shown, the country has become partic­u­larly vulner­able to supply security chal­lenges in connec­tion with its high level of depen­dence on energy imports. Due to the frequency with which Russia has used energy as a lever to exert political, military, or economic pressure on Georgia, ensuring energy inde­pen­dence and reducing its import-depen­dence have become the main priority of Georgia’s energy security strategy. To neutralise the political risks resulting its depen­dence on imports, Georgia intends to develop activ­i­ties leading toward maximum util­i­sa­tion of its energy resources, to implement energy-saving and energy-effi­ciency measures, complete its energy-market restruc­turing activ­i­ties, develop regional coop­er­a­tion and pursue its sustain­able devel­op­ment goals. In this process, support from our partners is vital, partic­u­larly with respect to the following:

  • The contin­u­a­tion of insti­tu­tional assis­tance to relevant bodies geared towards the timely imple­men­ta­tion of secondary legisla­tive activ­i­ties and the final­i­sa­tion of energy and envi­ron­ment sector restruc­turing processes;
  • The devel­op­ment of a compre­hen­sive financial support scheme for the imple­men­ta­tion of strate­gical energy-related projects dedicated to the enhance­ment of supply security in the region;
  • The provision of technical assis­tance in devel­oping strategic reserves of oil, gas, and electricity;
  • Coop­er­a­tion in the devel­op­ment and transfer of tech­nology for further util­i­sa­tion of renewables;
  • Assis­tance in creating a stable regu­la­tory market framework capable of attracting foreign investments;
  • Joint efforts to address the global chal­lenges related to envi­ron­mental protec­tion policies;
  • The promotion of LNG activ­i­ties in Georgia;
  • The provision of technical assis­tance relating to the final­i­sa­tion of the planned activ­i­ties aimed at inte­grating Georgia into the unified power system of Europe;
  • The provision of further technical assis­tance in the devel­op­ment and explo­ration of green hydrogen potential in Georgia;
  • Active political support and insti­tu­tional assis­tance to projects of common interest, opti­mising supply sources and devel­oping alter­na­tive supply routes.


[1] Ten-Year Network Devel­op­ment Plan of Georgia 2021–2031. 2021. Trans­mis­sion System Operator JSC “Georgian State Elec­trosystem”. Available from: Accessed: 10 June 2022

[2] Energy Balance of Georgia. National Statis­tics Office of Georgia. Statis­tical Publi­ca­tion 2021. Available from: 10 June 2022

[3] Report on Activ­i­ties of 2021. Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regu­la­tory Commis­sion. Available from: Accessed: 11 June 2022

[4] Union of Petroleum Importers. 20 July 2021. “Imports of gasoline and diesel fuel continue to grow.” Available from: Accessed: 11 June 2022

[5] Energy Balance of Georgia. National Statis­tics Office of Georgia. Statis­tical Publi­ca­tion 2021. Available from:  Accessed: 10 June 2022

[6] Elec­tricity balance 2021. Elec­tricity Market Operator. 2022. Available from:‑1/elektroenergiis-balansi-2021Accessed: 12 June 2022

[7] Renewable projects. 2021. Georgian Energy Devel­op­ment Fund. Available from: Accessed: 13 June 2022

[8] Ten-Year Network Devel­op­ment Plan of Georgia 2021–2031. 2021. Trans­mis­sion System Operator JSC “Georgian State Elec­trosystem”. Available from: Accessed: 10 June 2022

[9] Ten-Year Devel­op­ment Plan for Georgian Gas Trans­mis­sion Network 2021–2030. Georgian Oil and Gas Corpo­ra­tion. 2020. (Georgian version) available from:,%2025.11.2020.pdf Accessed: 15 June 2022

[10] Ten-Year Devel­op­ment Plan for Georgian Gas Trans­mis­sion Network 2021–2030. Georgian Oil and Gas Corpo­ra­tion. 2020. (Georgian version) available from:,%2025.11.2020.pdf Accessed: 15 June 2022

[11] Report on Activ­i­ties of 2021. Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regu­la­tory Commis­sion. 2022. Available from: Accessed: 16 June 2022

[12]Georgia’s 2030 Climate Change Strategy. 2021. Govern­ment of Georgia. 2021. Available from: Accessed: 17 June 2022



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