For someone like Kakha Kaladze, keeping on the move is no problem. For one thing he was the first Georgian to play for top Italian soccer club AC Milan. Since 2012 he’s been energy minister in his home nation, overseeing what is possibly the most dynamic arena of activity in the country. Since the 500/400/220 kV substation close to Akhaltsikhe, a city not far from the Turkish border in southwestern Georgia, was commissioned at the end of 2013, the Georgian power grid has been connected with the grid in Turkey, a country set to see explosive demand for electricity in the years to come.
The state-of-the-art substation, which boasts HVDC (high-voltage direct-current) technology, is the only one of its type anywhere in the Caucasus. It was planned and built by Siemens, making one of the key projects in the Black Sea Transmission Network Project initiated in 2010 a reality. Georgia is now the main hub for power transmission between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia and into Turkey and Europe. In the long term it will enable the former Soviet republic, which so far has always been dependent on energy imports, to become energy-independent, and earn money by producing and exporting surplus green power.