Our journal continues its new program of interviews “BEST NORDIC AND BALTIC PRACTICE” with high-level practitioners from Western Europe who share their knowledge in areas most relevant to our region.
Our today’s guest is not only highly competent in his area — renewable energy — but also has many years of hands-on practical experience in Georgia.
Bjørn BRANDTZÆG (or Bjorn Brandtzaeg on devices without Norwegian characters) is founder and CEO at Clean Energy Group, the biggest Norwegian investor in Georgia. He has been involved in Georgia’s hydropower projects since the early 2000-s.
Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: You have a rare experience as a Westerner who has started a successful large-scale business in Georgia “from zero”, and worked under several different governments. Do you sometimes feel that your experience is a very valuable asset, sharing which may be beneficial to many people, and to the country in general?
Bjørn BRANDTZÆG: I have been working with the development of the Georgian hydropower resources for many years, first as a government adviser funded by the Norwegian government and later as a project developer. I have seen the sector and projects evolving. As we have experienced in the Shuakhevi project [Shuakhevi Hydro Power Plant (HPP) is a run-of-the-river plant in Adjara, completed in 2017 — CJ], large hydroprojects are very challenging to develop and it is not possible to predict all the challenges a project will face when you start them. You need a very strong commitment to see them through.
AK: If yes, what are the most important lessons, which you would like to “teach”?
BB: The key lesson is that sustainability aspects have to be incorporated from the start in the project development. Unless people affected by the project development and the environment are taken good care of from the start, it is very challenging to progress with a project.