The government of Uzbekistan has recently approved a new program on hydro-power sector development for the period of 2016-2020. According to the program the government, with the support of international donors, is planning to allocate US$889.41 million in modernization of hydro-power generation facilities and construction of new hydro-power plants (HPP) in Uzbekistan. US$478.16 million out of the total investment package will be covered from the state budget, while the remaining US$411.25 million is expected to come from international loans. While the hydro-power sector development program is an important step toward establishing a more sustainable energy sector, the analysis shows that the investment projects within the program would not significantly increase the installed power generation capacity. And the main contribution of those projects would be limited to preventing a dramatic drop of hydroelectricity production due to aging and highly inefficient HPPs in Uzbekistan.
There are two main agencies regulating hydro-power sector of Uzbekistan: a) “Uzbekenergo”—a state owned energy company; and, (b) “Uzsuvenergo”—a special agency established within the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 1995.
Uzbekenergo is expected to implement 15 projects with investment totaling US$576.61 million within the next five years. According the program, Uzbekenergo will build 4 new HPPs with power generation capacity of 23.5 MW: (a) the Kamolot HPP—8 MW; (b) the Nanay HPP—2 MW; (c) the Tamshush HPP—11 MW; and, (d) the Dektar HPP—2.5 MW. Most importantly, it will be responsible for modernization of 11 HPPs that are currently in use, including those, which cover up the largest share of the hydroelectricity production in the country. The list includes the Charvak HPP—the largest HPPs in Uzbekistan—the power generation capacity of which accounts for nearly 620 MW (almost half of the country’s total installed capacity), and the Farhad HPP with power generation capacity of 126 MW. After the successful implementation of all these initiatives, the total power generation capacity of Uzbekenergo will reach 919.9 MW and it will be capable of supplying annually 3.456 billion kWh of electricity to the domestic and external markets.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources is planning to invest in the construction of five new small HPPs with total projected electricity output of 273.8 million kWh (70.9 MW) annually: (a) small HPP on the Tuyaguguz water reservoir—12.5 MW; (b) small HPPs cascade on the Great Ferghana Canal—10.2 MW; (c) the Kamchik HPP—18 MW; (D) the Shaudar HPP—7.2 MW; and, (e) the Zarchob-1 HPP—23 MW. The Ministry will also be investing in modernization of 3 HPPs (the Andijan-1 HPP, the Tuyamuyun HPP, and the Tupolang HPP), which would increase the power generation capacity of plants, operated by Uzsuvenergo, up to 465 MW to produce 1.406 billion kWh of electricity annually.
650 rivers, thousands of irrigation canals and a number of reservoirs in Uzbekistan provide some prospects for the development of hydro-power sector in the country. However, while the estimated technical hydro-power potential of the country accounts for around 27 billion kWh per year, the maximum installed capacity allows producing only up to roughly 6.3 billion kWh (23 percent). Hydroelectricity in Uzbekistan is mainly generated in 28 HPPs in 5 cascades operated by Uzbekenergo and 6 HPPs managed by Uzsuvenergo. While there is yet unexploited hydro-power potential, the total share of renewable and clean hydroelectricity accounts for less than 10 percent of the overall power production balance.
Without doubt, hydro-power sector of Uzbekistan is outdated and requires considerable investment in modernization. The history of hydro-power sector of Uzbekistan dates back to 1926, when the first HPP (Bozsuy) with the power generation capacity not exceeding 1 MW was put into operation. The Kadiri HPP (13.2 MW) was built in 1933, the HPP named after Loginov (42 HPP) in 1940, the Tavaksay HPP (36 MW) in 1941, the Kibray HPP (11.2 MW) in 1943, the Akkavak-1 HPP (10.7 MW) in 1945. The construction of the Farhad HPP (126 MW) was commenced in 1943 and the plant was put online 10 years later. The Charvak HPP was built in between 1963 and 1972. However, the mass media reporting some details of the hydro-power sector development program does not mention the exact range of power generation capacity increase that the government aims to achieve as a result of the above-mentioned initiatives. Taking into account the fact that the installed power generation capacity of all existing HPPs in Uzbekistan already accounts for around 1,300 MW, all the projects within the program are expected to mainly address the problem of electricity production loss rather than adding large amount of new generation capacities.
The governments’ interest in modernizing large HPPs is perfectly understandable. Large HPPs produce the lion’s share of hydroelectricity in the country. Besides, these plants have water reservoirs, which make it possible to regulate the water discharge to produce electricity. The Charvak HPPs (620 MW), the Hodjikent HPP (165 MW) and the Farhad HPP (126 MW) are among them. However, the construction of new large HPPs is impossible without building new water reservoirs, which requires considerable investments and can affect the availability of water supplies for irrigation purposes until these reservoirs are filled.
At the same time, the development of small hydro-power potential may have far greater affect on improving sustainability of the energy sector in Uzbekistan. The newly adopted program implies the construction of small HPPs, but the higher the future investments the greater would be the contribution. The total small hydro-power potential of Uzbekistan is estimated at the amount of 1,760 MW and only 3.2 percent of it is currently being exploited. In the 1960s, around 250 small and mini HPPs were functioning in Uzbekistan. Now the number has significantly decreased. However, the authorities might still be interested in supporting the construction of small HPPs, because these plants are considered environmentally less damaging, capable of supplying electricity in remote areas, and require less capital and investment, which can shortly be returned.
It is also worth mentioning that in the short- to medium term perspective, only the intra-Central Asian electricity trade can significantly increase the share of hydroelectricity in the overall consumption balance of the country. Initially, the electric power sector of Uzbekistan was designed to operate within a unified Central Asian Electric Power System. The resource-sharing mechanism ensured stability and reliability of electricity supplies within this system. The mechanism was based on rational use of energy, with Central Asian upstream and downstream countries contributing different types of sources (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—hydro power, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—thermal power) to the electricity production. Tajikistan enjoys 4 percent of the worldwide hydro-power potential to produce more than 527 billion kWh annually. Kyrgyzstan has the potential to generate annually up to 142.5 billion kWh of hydroelectricity, which places it third after Russia and Tajikistan among post-Soviet countries. Water–energy nexus tensions between downstream Uzbekistan and upstream Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, however, negatively affect the development of hydro-power potential of the region. Joint investments in the construction of large HPPs in the upstream Central Asian states and reinstating electricity trade within the already established regional power transmission lines will immensely contribute to the sustainability of energy sectors in the region, including Uzbekistan. For instance, the single Rogun HPPs in Tajikistan, with the capacity of 3600 MW, can produce twice as much hydroelectricity as the entire hydro-power sector of Uzbekistan.
To sum up, the hydro-power sector development program for the period of 2016-2020 attempts to solve the of outdated and inefficient power producing facilities, but the initiatives within the program do not imply adding large power generation capacities. To considerable improve sustainability of Uzbekistan’s energy sector, Uzbek authorities have to take a complex measures, including larger scale development of small hydro-power potential and restoring intra-Central Asian electricity trade.
1 “V Uzbekistane Prinyata Programma Razvitiya Gidroenergetiki,” (Hydro-power Sector Development Program is Adopted in Uzbekistan) Uzdaily.uz, Novermber 23, 2015, http://www.uzdaily.uz/articles-id-26999.htm.
2 “Prinyata Programma Razvitiya Gidroenergetiki do 2021 Goda” (Hydro-power Sector Development Program Until 2021 Is Adopted) Gazeta.ru, November 23, 2015, http://www.gazeta.uz/2015/11/23/ges/.
3 Vladimir V. Kouzmitch, “Strengthening Cooperation of Central-Asian Countries in Using Advanced Technologies in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources,” Project of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 2013, 18,http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/energy/se/pdfs/gee21/projects/AdvTech….
4 Uzbeknazorat Inspection “Current state and development prospects for the energy sector of Uzbekistan,” n.d.,http://www.energonazorat.uz/en/energy-saving/ozbekiston-energetikasining….
5 Venera Radujnaya, “GES Uzbekistana Proizvedut v 2015 Godu 9.2% Electroenergii,” (HPPs of Uzbeksitan Will Produce 9.2% of Electricity in 2015) Nuz.uz, November 19, 2015, http://nuz.uz/ekonomika-i-finansy/4407-ges-uzbekistana-proizvedut-v-2015….
6 Liu, H., Masera, D. And Esser, L., eds. World Small Hydropower Development Report 2013: Central Asia, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and International Center on Small Hydro Power, 2013,http://www.smallhydroworld.org/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/Regional_Report….
7 Alixanov, V. V. Konceptualnie podxodi k formirovaniyu ‘Green Economy’ v Uzbekistane (Conceptual approaches to Green Economy in Uzbekistan). Center for Economic Research, Analytical Report, 64.
8 Regional Economic Cooperation in Central Asia, “Electric Energy,” Final Report RETA 5818 (2000): 14,http://www.docstoc.com/docs/19688087/Electric-Energy#top.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Farkhod Aminjonov is an expert on energy security with a particular focus on Central Asia and the broader Eurasian region. He holds a Ph.D. in global governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs (offered jointly by the Center of International Governance Innovation, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo), Waterloo, Canada. In 2015, Farkhod Aminjonov successfully defended his Ph.D dissertation titled “Security of the Central Asian Energy System Through Regional-Level Energy Governance Innovations.” Dr. Aminjonov received his M.A in international area studies