Uzbekistan to build new hydropower plants until 2025

Tashkent, Uzbekistan ( -- After 2024, Uzbekgidroenergo plans to implement 4 hydroelectric power stations with a capacity of more than 30 MW, 16 new small ones, and to modernize 21 existing hydroelectric power stations. This was stated in the draft Concept of development of the hydropower industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2020-2024.

In order to ensure simultaneous construction of large and small hydropower plants and the modernization of existing hydroelectric power plants, projects are to be financed in the ratio of 69%, 19% and 12%, respectively.

As a result, the increase in annual electricity generation by 2,826 million kW/h will be ensured, while the total number of stations in the structure of Uzbekgidroenergo will reach 57 hydroelectric stations with a total electricity generation of 9.34 billion kWh.

Until 2025, Uzbekistan plans to send US$2.63 billion to implement these projects, of which - $2.04 billion – its own funds and US$643 million - of credit funds.

The document notes that the power industry is the basic industry that determines the development of the country’s economy. The need for electricity in industry and the population of Uzbekistan is determined by the level of civil society culture, energy efficiency and energy saving of the unified energy system. These factors are interconnected and together form possible scenarios of the socio-economic development of the republic.

Electricity generation in Uzbekistan is less diversified and mainly natural gas is used. More than 80% of the installed electrical capacity in Uzbekistan use natural gas, followed by hydropower - more than 10%, and coal - 5%.

Currently, there are two main electricity generating companies in the country, they are Uzbekenergo - they generate about 90% of total electricity production at thermal power plants and Uzbekgidroenergo with 37 hydropower plants provides about 10% of electricity generation with transmission to the unified power grid.

The total installed capacity of generating stations in Uzbekistan is 14,100 MW with an annual electricity generation of more than 70.0 billion kWh. Hydroelectric power plants with a total capacity of 1,854 MW generate about 6.5 billion kWh of electricity, depending on the water content of the year.

The studied hydropower potential of Uzbekistan is estimated at 27.5 billion kWh per year. Currently, the country uses only about 30% of the technical hydropower potential. At the same time, the aforementioned potential was estimated about 30 years ago, which needs to be updated, including consideration of new potential sites studied in recent years, and the expected increase in water volume due to the warming of regional relations with neighboring countries.

The main advantages for the further development of hydropower and increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the energy system of Uzbekistan are:

- use of natural and environmentally friendly source of renewable energy;

- preservation of hydrocarbon fuel reserves for future generations and ensuring commitments for the supply of energy for export;

- low cost of electricity produced at hydroelectric power plants in comparison with thermal power plants hydroelectric power plants in comparison with thermal power plants;

- simplicity of building solutions and structures, manufacturability of construction, wide use of local building materials, relatively low specific consumption of metal;

- ability to use the seasonal capacity of hydroelectric power plants for repairs at TPPs, as well as high maneuverability and fast power regulation of hydroelectric power stations, allowing them to be effectively used to cover the irregularity of power consumption schedules and maintain the normal current frequency in power systems, that is, ensure not only the production of the required quantity but also quality electricity.

- lack of daily regulation in the power system carried out by the three stations of the Urta-Chirchik cascade (Charvak hydroelectric station, Khodzhikentskaya) in the range of their installed capacity of 905.5 MW. The lack of peak power is covered by the power system due to the limiting operating conditions of thermal power plants.

Together with the above, the existing systemic problems in the structural units limit the existing opportunities for the development of the industry.

During the years of independence, 7 new hydropower plants were put into operation out of 37 operating hydroelectric power plants, the rest of the operated hydroelectric stations were built a long time ago, from 30 to 80 years ago. The equipment on them is heavily worn out and morally obsolete, equipment installed at many sites was dismantled from other stations.

As part of the implementation of projects for the modernization of existing hydropower plants based on technical audits, a phased replacement of worn-out and obsolete equipment with modern, high-tech and energy-efficient equipment is envisaged.

To ensure the fundamental improvement of hydropower and a tangible increase in the share in the balance of the power system, it is necessary to build large generating enterprises with a long construction period (up to 6 years).

In the concept of development of the industry, a list of projects for construction of large hydropower plants with implementation dates and sources of financing is defined.

The document says that, jointly with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, questions are being worked out on organizing a survey of the republic’s territories in order to clarify hydro potential.

The draft concept stresses the need to develop a mechanism for the participation of private entrepreneurs in the construction of micro and small hydropower plants, as well as the procedure for public-private partnership in the implementation of hydropower projects.

The draft concept said that it is necessary to increase the percentage of utilization of generating companies in the industry, utilization rate of installed capacity of hydropower plants depends on dispatch centers, regional power grids that place applications for a particular output capacity per hour or even shorter periods of time at power plants, based on the forecast consumption of electrical energy.

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