Tag Archives: hydro

Uzbekistan joins IRENA

TASHKENT, AUG. 24 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Uzbekistan joined the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation set up to help member countries strengthen their sources of green power. IRENA has 152 members. Uzbekistan has previously shied away from joining international organisations. Under the presidency of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, though, it has become open to international cooperation.


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(News report from Issue No. 341, published on Aug. 27 2017)

Comment: Russia eyes entry into the West’s CASA-1000, says Kilner

OCT. 21 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — It appears as if Pakistan is losing confidence in the West’s headline power transmission project in Central Asia — CASA-1000. It’s been talking to Russia and Turkmenistan about covering an anticipated shortfall in electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, undermining a core pillar of the project.

CASA-1000 is the World Bank funded project that will, when it is built in 2018, send electricity generated by hydropower stations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to consumers in Pakistan via Afghanistan.

The $1.2b project was supposed to spearhead what Hillary Clinton, when she was US Secretary of State, had described as a new north-south Silk Road. The West has disengaged from Central Asia to a large extent since the drawdown of it militaries from Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, making new projects like CASA-1000 so important. The aim was to empower Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, tie both Pakistan and Afghanistan into a wider Central Asian economic sphere and restore confidence in the West’s commitment to the region.

But it may not be going to plan.

Leaders from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan gathered earlier this year to mark the start of CASA-1000’s construction. They shook hands and smiled. Now it seems that Russian and Turkmen leaders should also have been there.

Pakistan has, openly, been courting both Russia and Turkmenistan as back up energy suppliers. Its leaders appear to doubt the ability of both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to produce enough power during the freezing winters when their domestic demand spikes and water levels in their reservoirs, which feed the hydropower plants, fall.

There are also question marks over whether the Soviet-era infrastructure that both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are relying upon can cope with the demands of CASA-1000. The World Bank has promised funds to both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to boost power production but it may not be enough and it may come too late, in any case.

Russia has already told Pakistan that it will happily feed its power into CASA-1000 to make up the shortfall but, and this is the point, this would undermine the ethos of the project.

With Russia riding to the rescue, CASA-1000 risks making the West’s strategy in Central Asia look muddled.

By James Kilner, Editor, The Conway Bulletin


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(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)

Pakistan anticipates power supply from Kyrgyzstan

OCT. 6 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Pakistani media hinted that it was anticipating potential supply-side problems with CASA-1000 electricity project by saying that it had invited Russia to make up any short- fall over winter when Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s hydropower stations are less productive. The World Bank-backed $1.2b project aims to send electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan by 2019. This year, shortages in Kyrgyzstan have cast doubts over the country’s export capacity and Pakistan has explored other suppliers, including Turkmenistan.


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(News report from Issue No. 299, published on Oct. 7 2016)

Uzbek FM pays visit to Tajik capital

SEPT. 29 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Abdulaziz Kamilov, Uzbekistan’s foreign minister, paid an official visit to Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon in Dushanbe in an effort to boost cooperation. Mr Kamilov and Mr Rakhmon held talks on joint efforts to combat terrorism and on water and energy issues that still divide the two countries. Uzbekistan has maintained strong opposition against Tajikistan’s decision to build a major dam and hydropower plant because it would affect downstream water supply.


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(News report from Issue No. 298, published on Sept. 30 2016)


Kyrgyzstan’s reservoir water level increases

SEPT. 26 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Water levels at Toktogul, a key reservoir in Kyrgyzstan, have increased to a four year-high, prompting the government to reassure people about winter electricity supplies. Tagzhana Aidaraliyeva, a spokesperson for the company managing Toktogul said water levels have reached 17.4b cubic metres in mid-September. In 2014, water levels had fallen to 11.9b cubic metres, forcing Kyrgyzstan to increase electricity imports and ration its distribution.


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(News report from Issue No. 298, published on Sept. 30 2016)

Tajik power plant to use Siemens-branded equipment

SEPT. 28 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – The Rogun dam and power station, under construction in Tajikistan, will use Siemens-branded switch- gears, the German edition of Focus reported. In July, Italy’s Salini Impregilo won a $3.9b contract to build the Rogun dam, which will become the tallest dam in the world, at 355m.


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(News report from Issue No. 298, published on Sept. 30 2016)

Tajikistan turns down Kyrgyz request for extra power

DUSHANBE, JULY 26 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Tajikistan’s minister of energy, Usmonali Usmonzoda, said he had turned down a request from Kyrgyzstan for extra electricity because the Tajik power generating system did not have any spare capacity.

The inability of Tajikistan to send power to Kyrgyzstan shows just how interdependent countries in Central Asia are. It also comes at a time when extra scrutiny is being placed on the power generation systems in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as they build up to powering the World Bank-backed $1.2b CASA-1000 power system to Pakistan.

At a press conference in Dushanbe, Mr Usmonzoda said that, due to rising industrial activity, Tajikistan does not have spare capacity.

“Kyrgyzstan asked for 2.5b kWh of electricity at 2.5 cents/kWh,” he told reporters. “This is a large volume and, because of the emergence of new domestic energy consumers, we decided to refrain from the supply.”

Last year, Tajikistan signed a short term supply agreement with Kyrgyzstan to export 146m kWh over the winter for 2.5 cent/kWh.

Now, though, Tajikistan may be looking for a better price.

Independent Bishkek-based energy expert Rasul Umbetaliyev told the KyrTAG news agency: “The minister diplomatically avoided answering directly, but the price for electricity exports from Tajikistan is currently 3.5 – 7 cents/kWh.”

Tajikistan is investing heavily in its power generating systems. It has approved a $3.9b project to build the Rogun hydropower system.

But with its economy stalling and industrial production lying stagnant rather than rising, production problems and not excessive demand could be holding back Tajikistan’s power exports.

Its electricity distributor, Barqi Tojik, has piled up $1.5b in debt. It hasn’t paid for the electricity it bought from power stations and it is still waiting to be paid by its largest customers.

The government is planning to split Barqi Tojik and bail it out.


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(News report from Issue No. 291, published on Aug. 1 2016)

Uzbek PM warns Tajikistan on dangers of Rogun

JULY 19 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Uzbek PM Shavkat Mirziyoyev complained to his Tajik counterpart over the signing of a $3.9b contract with Italy’s Salini Impregilo to build the Rogun dam and hydropower station on the Vakhsh river.

Uzbekistan has always opposed the project, which it has said will reduce essential water flow from the Pamir mountains to the Amu Darya river which irrigates Uzbek cotton fields.

For Tajikistan, Rogun carries symbolic value, it will be the world’s tallest dam, and is also economically important.

Mr Mirziyoyev said Tajikistan’s stance will trigger a reaction.

“The persistence with which the Government of Tajikistan seeks at all costs to continue construction of the Rogun hydroelectric power station, cannot but cause anxiety for the possible dangerous and irreparable consequences of such risky steps taken by the Tajik side,” he wrote.


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(News report from Issue No. 290, published on July 22 2016)

Briefing: Tajikistan’s Rogun dam project

JULY 15 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — >>Right. Let’s get started. The Rogun Dam. What is it and what is it all about?

>>For Tajikistan and President Rakhmon, the Rogun dam project is vitally important. If it is ever built, and the plans have been knocking around since the Soviet era, the Rogun dam will be the tallest dam in the world at up to 335 m. It will also double Tajikistan’s power generation capacity. The problem is that the dam has proved highly controversial, domestically and internationally, and is also expensive to build.

>>Hang on. Slow down. This is a lot take on. So, Rogun is massive but why is it controversial?

>>It’s controversial because human rights group have accused the government of forcibly moving thousands of people away from the Vakhsh River valley, the area that will be dammed and flooded. The government has also imposed a Rogun dam tax on people to pay for the project. This has gone down badly with human rights groups. Externally, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan’s neighbour, hates the idea of the Rogun dam. It worries that the dam will divert water from irrigating its cotton fields.

>>How serious are Uzbekistan’s concerns?

>>Central Asia is a fragile region. If Uzbekistan is making threatening noises
towards Tajikistan, people need to take notice. Analysts and diplomats have spoken of water wars in Central Asia. I’m not saying that the Rogun dam is going to trigger a war but it is another pressure point that people need to watch.

>>Got it. So with all these obstacles and problems why is Tajikistan pushing for problems?

>>It’s become Rakhmon’s pet project. He probably has another five or ten years left in office and it really feels like he wants and needs the Rogun dam to be his legacy. It’s also become vitally important for Tajikistan’s electricity generation sector. Electricity is becoming an important export commodity for Tajikistan as it has signed up to be the main power generator for the so-called CASA-1000 project.

>>CASA-1000? What is that?

>>It’s the World Bank-backed project to build a power transmission network from Tajikistan to Pakistan. It will cost around $1.2b, cross Afghanistan and be operational, if it all goes to plan, by 2019. The challenge is both security and power generation.CurrentlyTajikistan, and to a lesser extent Kyrgyzstan, doesn’t have the capacity to generate enough power to meet its CASA- 1000 commitments. That’s where Rogun comes in.

>>And the financing? This seems to be an expensive project just when the region is trying to deal with a financial crisis. Where is the finance coming from?

>>Good question. We’re not entirely clear. We’ve only been told that it is a mix of government funds and private investment. Who the private investors are and what their motives are is unknown.

>>I see. So what next?

>>Well, the Tajik government awarded a $3.9b contract to Italian builder Salini Impregilo to start construction work on the dam. We’re still waiting for work to begin but Salini Impregilo has said it will kick off soon. This has been a stop-start project so actually seeing the diggers go in and the workers start to build the dam is important. If this does happen, it’ll dominate news headlines for years to come.


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(News report from Issue No. 289, published on July 15 2016)


Tajikistan’s Rogun dam start surprises people

DUSHANBE, JULY 11 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — The revival of the Rogun hydropower project, for which Tajikistan awarded a $3.9b tender last week, surprised both analysts and people living in Dushanbe.

Most had assumed that the project first dreamt up under the Soviet Union had been mothballed. There had been no major break- through on the project for the past few years and the middle of an economic downturn is no time to start a major infrastructure project.

Still, it appears Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon had other ideas. Now, Italy’s Salini Impregilo, the construction company that won the tender, says it will complete the dam, set to be the world’s tallest, and the first two power stations by 2018.

Manu, a 28-year-old student in Dushanbe, summed up many Dushanbe-residents’ thoughts when he said that he had believed that the dam would never be built.

“I thought we would not build Rogun any time soon,” he told the Bulletin’s Tajikistan correspondent. “It all happened unexpectedly but I am excited.”

If Rogun is successfully completed it will double Tajikistan’s power production and turn it into a major regional electricity exporter.

Analysts, though, were sceptical about the aggressive timeline that Salini Impregilo has set.

Filippo Menga, researcher at the University of Manchester who has studied Tajikistan’s hydropower, told the Bulletin that large dams are never built on time.

“There is still uncertainty on who is going to fund the Rogun dam, delays are clearly foreseeable. The timeline is simply not realistic,” he said.

The Rogun dam project is cer- tainly ambitious and will change Tajikistan’s fortunes if it is success- fully completed. It will also leave a lasting legacy for the 63-year-old Mr Rakhmon who, if reports are to be believed, is already thinking about his succession strategies.


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(News report from Issue No. 289, published on July 15 2016)