Sustainable Bioenergy for Georgia: A Roadmap

Georgia Roadmap Cover Trees In The Fall
This is an extract, full report available as PDF download

In this report

An overview of the prevailing institutional framework related to bioenergy and associated policies opens this roadmap, followed by a description of the wider context of bioenergy supply and consumption in Georgia.

The body of the roadmap focuses on:

Ensuring sustainable biomass supplies
Modernising the consumption of biomass.

Current Georgian practices are summarised for these two areas, and examples of international best practices in bioenergy from IEA member countries are offered. The roadmap then outlines the policies, technologies and management practices needed for Georgia to harness its biomass potential securely and sustainably. These are presented as a set of overarching policy actions, underpinned by detailed biomass supply and consumption recommendations.

The recommended actions are compiled as a co-ordinated package of measures to be implemented during 2020-25 to modernise Georgia’s bioenergy industry and make it sustainable by 2030. The social, economic and environmental benefits for the country are summarised as a vision of Georgia’s modern bioenergy industry in 2030.

Purpose

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced this Sustainable Bioenergy for Georgia roadmap as part of the EU4Energy programme, a five-year initiative funded by the European Union. EU4Energy’s aim is to support the development of evidence-based energy policy design and data capabilities within the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia, including Georgia.

The central purpose of this document is to guide policymaking at all levels related to the supply and sustainable use of biomass for producing bioenergy in Georgia, and to act as a precursor for a national bioenergy strategy. The Government of Georgia is therefore invited to consider incorporating the actions needed to modernise the use of biomass resources, as outlined in this roadmap, into a dedicated bioenergy strategy.

Although bioenergy is a broad issue encompassing a wide range of fuels, technologies and end-use applications, this roadmap’s primary focus is on increasing the sustainability of biomass-based heating in Georgia to mitigate the social and environmental impacts of inefficient firewood use.

This roadmap aims to help Georgia formulate its integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for 2030 as part of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development’s wider State Energy Policy, in addition to other relevant strategies and plans across all levels of government. It is also intended to support and guide the activities of other key stakeholders, notably non-governmental organisations (NGOs), providers of development financing and the private sector.

Key institutions and stakeholders

As bioenergy falls under the jurisdiction of multiple government ministries and departments, a co-ordinated approach to policymaking, governance and market development is required.

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development (MoESD) has overall responsibility for renewable energy policy through its Energy Department. It is also responsible for implementing energy efficiency measures in the energy, industry and transport sectors, and it develops technical regulations for transport and implements overall transport policy.

The Georgian Energy Development Fund (GEDF) is a state-owned company under the jurisdiction of the MoESD. Created in 2010, the GEDF’s key mission is to promote the development of commercially viable renewable energy projects. The GEDF supports project development by conducting preliminary research, project feasibility assessments and initial environmental impact assessments, and it facilitates contact between project developers and investors. It also participates in project development as an equity partner.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) is the highest executive body in charge of developing national forestry policies. MEPA has overall responsibility for strategic planning and policymaking regarding forestry and agricultural resource management. It also defines and implements Georgia’s national climate change policy, issuing environmental permits for energy sector projects and defining and implementing air quality policy.

MEPA implements and enforces forestry policy through the structural units under its jurisdiction: the Department of Biodiversity and Forestry, the National Forestry Agency, the Agency of Protected Areas and the Department of Environmental Supervision. The Department of Biodiversity and Forestry’s responsibilities include forest conservation, monitoring and reporting, and the National Forestry Agency is tasked with enforcing the Forest Code, which involves forest management and the supervision of biomass harvesting. The Autonomous Republic of Adjara has its own forestry agency.

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Agency is a new body created following adoption of the PPP Law in May 2018. The PPP Agency’s mandate is to lead the development and implementation of public-private co-operation projects. PPP arrangements could prove effective in reducing the investment risks of early-stage bioenergy projects and could support modern bioenergy heating projects in public buildings.

The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure is in charge of municipal capacity-building, which will be essential considering the new skills associated with modern heating solutions for public sector buildings. The Municipal Governments of Georgia are also important stakeholders since they are responsible for energy procurement for public buildings.

The National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) compiles official energy statistics. It also conducts and analyses household energy consumption surveys, which are an invaluable source of quantified information on the final consumption of biomass. The first of these was conducted in 2017, and the next is scheduled for 2022.

International development programmes are currently the principal instigators of renewable heat project development in Georgia. Georgian institutions have benefitted from technical and financial support in the area of forestry and bioenergy from organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and NGOs such as the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) and World Experience for Georgia. As these organisations proactively develop sustainable bioenergy policy proposals and project pilots, the modernisation of Georgia’s bioenergy consumption will require their ongoing support.

Private sector activity in the biomass industry currently consists of fragmentary entrepreneurial initiatives. The Biomass Association of Georgia was established in 2017 with UNDP support. Its remit is to create a common and effective platform for co-operation as well as information- and knowledge-exchange in the area of biomass to accelerate biomass policy deployment and market development. There is scope to increase its membership and activity, however.

To integrate bioenergy into energy policy development and create the market conditions for growth of a modern bioenergy industry, the responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders must be clearly defined. This requires co-ordination among the public and private sectors and the various levels of government.

No single body currently has overall responsibility for a future bioenergy strategy. Considering the various cross-sectoral aspects of bioenergy, a co-ordinating body directly responsible for promoting biomass supply sustainability and efficient resource use is needed. Such an agency could be integrated into an organisation with a wider renewable energy remit.

Current policy landscape for bioenergy

Despite the widespread use of solid biomass for residential heating, bioenergy is not broadly incorporated into energy policy. Furthermore, no specific support measures are in place to facilitate renewable heat production, including by using modern biomass fuels and efficient technologies. International development programmes and development banks are currently the primary sources of financial support for renewable-heat initiatives.

Since Georgia’s accession to the Energy Community Treaty, the country has begun to create a legal and regulatory framework to comply with the EU acquis. This includes introducing national legislation to harmonise its energy market with the EU Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings directives.

Under the Energy and Water Supply Law, the MoESD is responsible for a comprehensive State Energy Policy that addresses all aspects of the energy sector. The law covers all forms of energy, including biomass.

Georgia’s parliament passed a Renewable Energy Law in December 2019 that has provisions for setting renewable energy targets and monitoring progress in meeting them. It also provides a framework for introducing renewable energy support mechanisms; although these are in development, there are currently no details on whether bioenergy technologies will be included.

The several articles of the Renewable Energy Law that make specific reference to bioenergy:

  • Outline that Georgia’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan should implement policies to develop existing biomass resources and mobilise new ones.
  • Ensure adequate certification of technologies, including biomass boilers and stoves.
  • Consider the ability of renewables-based district heating to meet energy objectives by 2030, and to facilitate infrastructure development.
  • Stipulate biannual reporting of renewable energy consumption, including the bioenergy portion, and any associated changes to consumer good prices and land use.

The Law on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPB), adopted in May 2020, aims to set buildings sector regulations to improve the energy efficiency of existing and new buildings, to introduce minimum energy performance standards and provisions, and to establish energy performance certification and the inspection of heating equipment. The Law on Energy Efficiency adopted alongside the EPB Law creates a framework for energy efficiency activities, including the introduction of support measures.

Secondary legislation still needs to be developed and passed to implement these laws, and ongoing technical and operational support are required to formulate new regulations and action plans.

Georgia is preparing its NECP for 2021-30 with an outlook to 2050 to ensure consistency with long-term EU, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Energy Community policy objectives. The NECP will provide a framework for 2030 sustainable bioenergy consumption targets and will outline support measures.

All of Georgia’s forests are currently under state ownership and are administered according to the Forest Code of Georgia, a new version of which was adopted in 2020 under the authority of the Forestry Agency. The National Forestry Programme (NFP) facilitates stakeholder dialogue to support forestry sector reform through a working group on alternative energy sources and sustainable firewood use.

Georgia’s parliament has adopted a National Waste Management Code and the government has approved a national waste management strategy and action plan to 2030. These prescribe less landfilling of biodegradable wastes, with waste sorting starting in 2020 and creating opportunities for energy-from-waste (EfW) project development. The code covers hazardous, municipal solid, urban green and industrial wastes, but not agricultural residues.

In its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), Georgia volunteered to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% of the business-as-usual (BAU) level by 2030. As forestry management is a key means to reduce GHG emissions, the government has outlined three mitigation actions for the forestry sector: (1) establish sustainable forest management practices; (2) conduct afforestation/reforestation and assist natural regeneration; and (3) expand protected areas.

Georgia is also implementing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) projects, including:

  • Adaptive sustainable forest management in the Borjomi-Bakuriani Forest District (implemented).
  • The efficient use of biomass for equitable, climate-proof and sustainable rural development (implemented on a small scale only due to lack of financial support).

Georgia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) was at the draft stage at the time of writing. If adopted in its current form, it will commit the country to an unconditional target of reducing GHG emissions to 35% below the 1990 level by 2030. The draft NDC recognises the carbon-sink capacity of national forests and aims to maintain their climate change mitigation and adaptation capacities. Consequently, the draft NDC states Georgia’s intention to increase the carbon capture capacity of its forests 10% by 2030 (compared with 2015). It also advocates the low-carbon development of the agriculture sector through climate-smart agricultural technologies and services.

Supported by

  • European Union

    This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union and is part of the EU4Energy programme.

Analysis