Uzbekistan joins Central Asian hydropower race

After years of raising objections to similar projects in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan earlier this month unveiled  plans to spend  some $4.3bn developing a network of hydropower plants (HPPs) of its own over the next ten years.
The news follows Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev’s announcement in May that the authorities in Tashkent would be  placing a new emphasis on developing renewable energy resource and initially  provides  for the construction of 18 new and the modernising of 14 existing HPPs by 2021 at a cost of some $2.65bn. Just under $573m of this figure will come as loans and credits from the China Eximbank, $181.1m from the Islamic Development Bank, $77.3 million from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and $98.4 million from the Asian Development Bank.
Further hydropower projects planned for completion by  2030 are expected to cost an additional $1.7bn.
The issue of hydropower has long been a bone of contention between Uzbekistan and its mountainous neighbours, where the immense potential of hydropower has barely been tapped and where the pressing need of the two cash-strapped governments for additional energy makes hydropower especially attractive. Reliant on the waters streaming down the from melting glaciers of the Tian Shan and Pamir Mountain ranges to irrigate his country’s cotton fields  Uzbek President Islam Karimov, whose death was announced on September 2, was a fierce opponent of construction of both the Roghun HPP in Tajikisan  and the Kambar-Ata-1 HPP in Kyrgyzstan.
Tajikistan is, nevertheless,racing  ahead with construction of the Roghun HPP, a massive structure that when finished will generate some 3,600 MW and should make the country not only totally energy independent but allow it to export electricity. Three of the  project’s planned six units could be operational before the end of 2018, officials predicted last month.

Source: rferl