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Small Mountain Rivers Power Resources


Small Mountain Rivers Power Resources Study, Basic Micro Hydro Parameters Determination and Protection of Ecosystems in High-Mountainous Locales of Caucasus

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-OTH/Other/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Metallurgy, Georgia, Tbilisi


  • JacobsGIBB Ltd, UK, Reading\nOSSBERGER GmbH + Co, Germany, Weissenburg

Project summary

The project goals are elaboration of new methods of evaluation of small mountain rivers’ hydro potential and issuance of technical guidelines on construction of small-scale hydro; raising the level of ecological security and improvement of the social and economic conditions in remote high-mountainous regions in the context of a comprehensive global challenge of “Sustainable Mountain Development” on the pattern of the river Aragvi basin (the Great Caucasus).

Given the significance of mountain areas in sustainable development globally, the UN has designated the year 2002 as the International Year of Mountains. The proposed project deals with the complex issue of sustainable development, natural resource management and environmental protection in compliance with the recommendations of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio, 1992.

The problem background: the only sources of energy available to the inhabitants of remote mountainous villages are the surrounding woods and shrubs. Lack of electricity and other sources of heating are leading to deforestation, an increase in floods and landslides, activation of soil erosion and breakdown in means of communication.

The exigency of the problem is caused by that the areas in question are rather densely populated (in comparison with the high-mountainous areas of Central Asia, for instance) and consequently are subjected to a stronger anthropogenic pressure. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the social and political cataclysms enveloping the Caucasus for the past 10 years have left the inhabitants completely deprived of modern energy sources (previously they were supplied with cheap electricity, and occasionally, cheap natural gas).

The logical way-out under these circumstances would be harnessing the significant hydro power potential of mountain rivers for electricity production.

For remote and isolated mountain communities micro-hydro systems are particularly suitable as power supplies. The systems will provide a source of cheap, independent and continuous power, without degrading the environment.

Resolving energy problem will be beneficial for the high-mountainous areas of the Caucasus: it will stimulate development of local economy, improve living conditions, save forests, decrease erosive processes, and environmental disasters and social instability will be averted as a result. The task is in full conformity with the sustainable mountain development objectives as recommended by the UN mountain agenda, and it represents part of a global challenge.

The solution of sustainable mountain development issues is bound to have positive effect on tackling similar issues in the Alps, which are threatened with irreversible landscape degradation due to excessive anthropogenous pressure (the enormous potential of the Caucasus for international tourism should not be underestimated) [1, 2].

The energy sector of the majority of countries, especially so-called developing, was oriented toward large-scale hydro (hydroelectric power station) and thermal power stations. Small hydropower was considered an inadequate proposition; consequently the power resources of the small rivers remained largely unused and unstudied.

Utilization of the local hydro potential, envisaging the development of a network of micro hydro plants is the only viable option to achieve highland electrification. However, lack of hydrological and power characteristics of the small mountain rivers, sound technical guidelines for micro hydro construction containing their features and complexity of computational methods regarding water recourses and flow condition elements of the small rivers have hindered investment in Micro Hydro. Therefore, evaluation of water resources, determining flow rates and issuance of site recommendations, taking into account the environmental, economic and technical aspects of strategically important high-mountainous areas of the Caucasus is a pressing issue.

Selection of this region is conditioned by: lack of access to the electricity grid, a large number of rivers with a significant hydro potential, hard socio-economic conditions of the local population, lack of infrastructure, especially high rates of migration into the urban areas. The law of Georgia on “Socio-Economic and Cultural Development of the High-Mountainous Areas” designates these regions as zones of acute demographic and ecological crisis, and in need of urgent rehabilitation.

The Novelty of the project is the following:

- Water resources and annual/seasonal rates of flow will be determined according to a newly developed methodology, which allows accurate determination of water flow of rivers.

- Hydrological parameters and hydro-electrical potential of small rivers will be determined by the newly developed express method.

- In the design of turbines will be considered possibility of easy removal of silt and other drawn detritus from the nozzle, thus increasing their reliability and simplifying their maintenance.

- An integrated program will be elaborated for automated computation of hydrological parameters and hydro power potential of small mountain rivers.

Scientific and Practical Value of the project:

- The scale of anthropogenic pressure in remote mountain areas posing a risk of ecological disasters will be determined.

- An accelerated method of evaluation of hydrological parameters and energy potential of the small rivers will be developed.

- Designs of hydro engineering structures (main structures, penstock, persion canals, hydro electric power plant building) and turbines will be selected and systemized according to the head and the discharge of water, taking into account characteristics of the small mountain rivers conditions: large head, sharp fluctuations in water discharge, accompanying thunderstorms, an abundance of solid drainage, etc.

- Compact designs of micro and mini-hydropower units (turbine and generator on one frame) with an automatic frequency and strain control will be elaborated; their parameters and the area of their application will be determined.

- Outcomes of studies on determination of hydro resources of the small mountain rivers, prospective locations of small Hydroelectric Power Stations (MACRO HIDRO) and calculation of their technical and economic parameters will be distributed among inpidual and state investors, thus enabling them to choose a potential site.

- The project will promote the solution of a complex issue of “Sustainable mountain development”.

Competence of participants of project:

The main implementers of the project are highly qualified scientists, prominent specialists in mountain issues, hydrology, hydro-electrical power development, participants of international forums on mountain issues, Greenpeace activists and founders of the Georgian Union of Mountain Activists, NGO [3-6]. Earlier they executed the orders of the defence ministries and departments of USSR.

Therefore, support of the project from the party ISTC will have the relevant social and economic significance for Georgia, as on the one hand, the knowledge of these scientists will be directed on development of new effective technologies in the field of the environmental protection which has been carried out at an international level, and on the other hand, to promote their implicating in international community, and also realization of policy of Republic at a stage of transition to market economy.

The organization - participant of the given project guarantees Institute of metallurgy of an Academy of sciences of Georgia maintenance of the participants of the project by premise, equipment and other financial assets for realization of operations. The equipment and the research and development instrumentation available in Institute, basically is sufficient for accomplishment of the given project at a high research and development and experimental - designer level.

The role of foreign collaborators basically will be the recommendations for a technique of realization and testing of investigations, commentaries to developed technologies, realization of joint seminars on discussion of a course of fulfillment of operations, issue of the information on marketing and commercialization of the project.


1) Mountains of the World – The Global Priority. Edited by Messereli and J.Ives, “Nooshpere”, 1999.

2) Retten die Alpen, by L. Lucshanderl, M. Progress, 1987.

3) Gigineishvili G. – Global geographic-geologic prognosis “Proceedings of the USSR Academy of sciences, series of geography, #3, p. 773-78b, Moscow, 1987.

4) Gigineishvili G., Nakhuzrishvili G. The problems of sustainable development of mountain locals – "Proceedings of the Russian Academy of sciences, series of geography" #6, p. 95-101, Moscow, 1998.

5) D.Khantadze - On the Issue of Ecological Stability of Mountain Areas in the Age of Globalization, Proceedings of the forth international conference on sustainable mountain development – “Issues of Regional Cooperation and Regional Mountain Policy – 2001”.

6) D.Gabunia, D.Khantadze – Determination of Complexity of Mountainous Areas of Georgia– Bulletin of Georgian Academy of Sciences, 165, # 3, 2002.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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