CHEBURI, Georgia 5/1/12 (PennWell) -- China's Sinohydro Corporation has begun construction on a new 210-MW hydropower plant in western Georgia, sources report.
Construction of the US $630 million Nenskra hydroelectric facility is expected to be complete by the end of 2017, though the country's energy ministry says that date will hinge largely on rehabilitation and relocation of access roads.
The Nenskra plant is part of Georgia's renewable energy program, which was unveiled in 2008 and seeks to attract investments in new hydropower stations.
Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says the additional power production is key for the country's development and an important factor in establishing its full independence from Russia.
"It means Georgia is able to build," says Saakashvili. "We've tasted independence, and what scares our conqueror is that if Georgian people made everything with their hand, it means we don't need them and we are able to do everything."
Project operator Engurhesi Ltd. took bids for several other hydropower projects within Georgia's borders in March 2012 and February 2011.
Meanwhile, Sinohydro recently announced it had awarded a contract worth $26.25 to Alstom for turbines and generators at the 120-MW Itezhi-Tezhi hydropower plant in Zambia.