Russia’s catastrophic and unjustified war on Ukraine has fundamentally altered Europe’s attitudes toward energy security. It became apparent that in the aggressors’ hands, energy could become a weapon that might be used for disrupting supply chains, raising prices to unprecedented levels, employing the practice of price discrimination, and using energy resources as leverage to coerce certain countries to change their political course.
Moreover, energy security is inextricably intertwined with environmental sustainability. Dependence on fossil fuels causes emissions of air pollutants and releases greenhouse gasses that are harmful for the environment and health. Based on these threats and complications, the European Union has highlighted the need for ensuring energy security and protecting the environment through renewable, green, and clean energy. This is explicitly reflected in the European Green Deal, which aims at transforming the EU as the first climate-neutral continent (A European Green Deal: Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent). In this context, Georgia could become an incredibly valuable strategic partner for the EU countries that are actively looking for ways to diversify their energy sources and transition to sustainable energy for a better future.
Located at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia undeniably has a strategic location and the potential to become a hub for sustainable energy development. While it is true that Georgia’s energy production currently covers only about one-fifth of its demand (21.1% in 2020), the majority of domestic energy produced in Georgia comes from hydro and bioenergy sources (Georgia Energy Profile). This potential could be further enriched and strengthened with cooperation between the EU and Georgia in the field of energy and environment. For instance, the EU is actively helping Georgia to develop critical infrastructure and connectivity and promote the production of renewable energy. Infrastructure projects, such as the rehabilitation of Enguri and Vardnili hydropower, have been tremendously important for strengthening electricity transmission lines and promoting green energy in the country. Therefore, with joint action and mutual cooperation, Georgia can finally create an effective energy infrastructure and become an electricity exporter of clean and green energy to the European Union countries (The European Union and Georgia, 2021).
Moreover, Germany is one of the most committed partners willing to help Georgia on its path to developing the green energy sector. For instance, the German investment and development bank, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), is supporting the enhancement of the power grid and renewable energy sector with more than €200 million (Ristau, 2023).
Georgia therefore has an abundant possibility of becoming a green energy hub in the Caucasus region. Moreover, the Georgian State Electricity Producer (GSE) expects to expand capacities in the coming years to utilise the vast resources available in the country, increase Georgia’s energy security, and enhance its export potential. The non-traditional sources that are ready to be utilised include hydrogen, biogas, biomass, and geothermal energies. In addition, the construction of additional wind farms with a capacity of 900 MW is being actively discussed. If implemented, this could further enhance Georgia’s role in producing renewable and sustainable energy that could be exported to EU countries (Ristau, 2023).
Another salient and tremendously important project that could help Georgia to become a hub for producing renewable energy in the South Caucasus region is the Black Sea Green Cable initiative, which will guarantee the energy security of Georgia and EU countries. Besides, not only does the Black Sea cable project have the potential to diversify energy sources and ensure uninterrupted supply, but it could also minimise risks and help the EU to import reliable electricity that does not cause irreversible damage to the environment (Business Media, 2023).
The ambitious project of the Black Sea electric cable between Georgia, Romania, and Azerbaijan aims at enhancing energy capacities among the member countries, building resilience, encouraging independence of energy supply, and promoting renewables for protecting the environment. The cable will connect the electricity systems of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Romania, and Hungary and will effectively transmit electricity from renewable sources to the European Union (Petkova, 2022). Hence, the project is of utmost importance for Georgia as well as for European Union countries. In addition, the Black Sea electric cable could bring electricity to Moldova and Ukraine which will eventually help to propel the economic reconstruction of the country. Currently, the feasibility study of the project is carried out by analysts, researchers, and politicians. In addition, the EU has vowed to provide financial support for the Black Sea cable project.
Georgia, as a country stretched between the Black and the Caspian Seas, has vast possibilities for developing its renewable energy infrastructure. If the projects and ambitious initiatives are successfully implemented, Georgia could become one of the main strategic partners for the European Union in the energy domain. Apart from strengthening and enhancing the economic relationship between Georgia and the EU, the new infrastructure and energy grid projects would undoubtedly contribute to the energy security of the partner countries and ensure environmental sustainability, which is one of the cornerstones of the EU’s objectives. Georgia’s energy potential is especially important in the context of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, when energy security, price stability, and renewables became top priorities in the EU agenda.