Last week, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan and the Masdar Company (UAE) signed an agreement to increase the design capacity of the ongoing project on wind power plants in Uzbekistan to 1.5 GW.
According to the country’s minister of energy Alisher Sultanov, the wind farm will be the largest facility of its kind in the Central Asian region. Moreover, this is another step towards Uzbekistan’s goal of bringing the share of wind power-generated electric energy to 3 GW by 2030. In general, during the specified period, the share of renewable energy sources (RES) in the energy mix should reach 25%.
The project for the development, construction and operation of 500 MW wind farm, the second large-scale clean energy project in the country has been launched in Uzbekistan in 2020. It is projected that the project will attract over US $ 600 million of investments in the country’s economy. With the signing of the new agreement with Masdar, the capacity of the project, which will be located in the Zarafshan district of Navoi region, will be increased to 1.5 GW.
The 500 MW Zarafshan wind farm will be put into operation by the end of 2024. This plant will be enough to supply 500,000 households. It will also help prevent the release of to 1.1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year into the atmosphere.
To date, the share of “green energy” in Central Asian countries is still far from being notable. However, ambitious plans and tasks to unleash the existing potential in the region are changing the situation in a progressive way. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan account for 5.5% of the world’s potential in hydropower, the scorching sun has endowed richly Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with 3,000-3,600 hours of radiation per year, and the potential of wind energy in Kazakhstan exceeds 1.8 trillion kWh per year.
Kazakhstan has more than 100 RES-based power generating facilities with a total installed capacity of 1,634.7 MW (data for 2020). At the same time, the renewable electricity generation in the country grew by 74% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Turkmenistan is also taking steps to introduce renewable energy practice. The largest and oldest representative of alternative energy in the hydrocarbon-rich country is the Gindykush hydropower plant with a capacity of 1.2 MW, built in the era of tsarist Russia. Turkmenistan has adopted a National Strategy for the development of renewable energy for the period up to 2030. And early last year, solar power systems with a total electric capacity of 10 kW replaced diesel generators in three settlements in the center of the Karakum desert. There are plans to build a solar power plant with a capacity of 10MW on the coast of man-made lake Altyn Asyr in Karakum, where a new settlement will rise from scratch.
In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the main source of energy is hydropower. Both countries face the problem of reducing water resources, prompting decision-makers to diversify the sources of energy generation.
Meanwhile, considerations about the development of renewable energy in Central Asia sometimes causes skeptical opinions among experts. After all, clean energy projects are quite capital-intensive and have a long payback period. As a result, the tariffs for RES-generated electricity would be unaffordable for end-consumers, otherwise publicly-subsidized mechanism has to be provided.
However, industrial development, demographic growth across the region, the global trend towards sustainable development, urgent call for mitigating climate change, and, subsequent growing energy consumption can push the energy systems of Central Asian countries to more actively develop the green resources that nature has so generously awarded them. /// nCa, 6 April 2021