The multilateral bank disclosed in a project summary document on 25 September that it is studying the award of a loan of US$ 30 million as part of a US$ 60 million A/B loan for the project, which has an estimated cost of US$ 88.7 million. A final decision is expected to be taken in late November.
The run-of-river station on the river Kheledula in the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions is being developed by Kheledula Energy LLC, a special purpose vehicle set up to develop, construct and operate the project. Kheledula Energy is majority owned and controlled by the Turkish conglomerate Anadolu Grubu Holding. The project envisages a hydropower scheme operating on the natural runoff of the rivers Kheledula and Devashi, two tributaries of the river Tskhenistskali, and is expected to generate average annual output of 237 GWh. Under the terms of its development, 20 per cent of the actual annual power generation of the facility shall be sold to the state electricity market operator ESCO during the six winter months of each year (October through to the end of March) for the first 20 years of operation. The project is designed with two weirs. Weir 1 will be built on the Kheledula, about 6 km upstream of the confluence with the river Tskhenistskali, from which water will be diverted into the neighbouring Devashi river valley through a free-flow tunnel where it will combine with water collected from the Devashi river at a second weir (weir 2) located 2.5 km upstream of the confluence of the Devashi and Tskhenistskali. The combined flow will then be directed via an underground penstock to the powerhouse, which will be located on the right bank of the river Tskhenistskali, downstream of the town of Lentekhi. The facility will be connected to the grid through a transmission line that will be built and operated by GSE, the national grid operator.
The project was subject to an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) that was approved by the relevant Georgian permitting authority in 2017. While the scheme has no large reservoir, one of the two planned weirs exceeds the 15 m height in ICOLD’s definition of large dams, resulting in the project being categorized A under EBRD’s 2014 environmental and social policy. On this basis, a supplementary E&S impact assessment was prepared in 2018 to ensure all the project components are assessed in compliance with EBRD’s E&S Performance Requirements, in addition to national legislation requirements. A design change was introduced in 2018 to optimize the project, involving the replacement of the pressure tunnel by an underground penstock in Devashi Valley, and a complementary ESIA was prepared for this change at the request of the permitting authority. When finalized, the modified local ESIA will be published on the company’s website.
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