The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how interconnected human health is with the environment, as well as with economic and social progress. We can no longer ignore the signals that nature itself sends us.

Unfortunately, climate change is on the rise. In Central Asia, the average annual temperature over the past 30 years has increased by about one degree. The decline in the flow of major rivers and biodiversity in our region is a matter of deep concern. The problems of greenhouse gases and large-scale pollution of the atmosphere have been exacerbated.

There is no doubt that countries’ actions to achieve the goals of green development must be more proactive and more effective. We have no other choice. It is a message we plan to take to the important COP26 conference in Glasgow later this year.

This important work has already been started and is being implemented in Uzbekistan. Thus, in the energy sector, a comprehensive strategy and a transition to a “green” economy, as well as programs for the development of renewable and hydrogen energy, are being implemented.

Under the Paris Agreement, Uzbekistan committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2030. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in his speech at the second International Summit “Partnership for Green Growth and Global Goals – 2030” (P4G), noted: “We are the first in the region to join the Global Green Growth Institute and intend to open its office in Uzbekistan.”

One of the key areas for the Ministry of Energy is the desire to achieve carbon neutrality including through the development of “green” energy. Thus, the Ministry has begun the implementation of major projects for the construction of solar and wind power plants. The country plans to more than triple the share of renewable energy sources in the next ten years. The Ministry is also working closely with neighbouring states in order to develop the large hydropower potential of the Central Asian region. Plans are underway for an international conference, “Green Energy for Developing Countries”, to be held next year in Uzbekistan.

Analysis shows that Uzbekistan is actually quite capable of providing itself with energy. The country is not only rich in gas and oil, but also has a huge potential for the development of environmentally friendly energy sources.

The country is not neglecting conservation. A lot of work is being done to modernise the power grids and, in the next five years, as the plans are implemented, the loss of electricity during transmission and distribution will be significantly reduced.

It is also planned to reduce the consumption of natural gas for energy production from 16.5 to 12.1 billion cubic meters by 2030 and to use gas produced domestically for conversion into polymer products (i.e. goods with high added value) with a view to their further export.

The use of renewable energy sources is now one of our priorities. In accordance with the recommendations of the UN Convention on Climate Change, Uzbekistan seeks to improve energy efficiency and increase the share of renewable energy sources. The Ministry of Energy, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the international consulting company Mott MacDonald, is working on a comprehensive carbon reduction strategy.

It is clear that Uzbekistan’s current energy production system needs to be modernised, and today is heavily dependent on natural gas, but gradually a well-developed strategy will help to move to low-carbon forms of energy production, and at the same time meet rapidly growing energy needs.

The Ministry, together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), recently developed a ten-year electricity supply plan. By 2030, the implementation of this plan will lead to the creation of additional energy capacity, which will include 5 GW of solar energy, 1.9 GW of hydropower and up to 3 GW of wind energy.

The potential of renewable energy sources in Uzbekistan becomes clear from a glance out a Tashkent window. On average, the country experiences about 320 sunny days each year. The state has set a goal to increase the share of renewable energy in the total volume of electricity production by 2030 to 25%. By September of this year, the Ministry will be ready to commission the country’s first solar photovoltaic power plant of an industrial nature with a capacity of 100 megawatts. It is being built in the Karmaninsky district of Navoi by Masdar (UAE). Another 100 MW solar power plant will be commissioned soon in the Samarkand region. It is being built on the basis of Public-Private Partnership with the French company Total.

To develop a “roadmap” to create a carbon-neutral electricity generation sector in Uzbekistan by 2050, the Ministry in co-operation with the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade with the support of the EBRD and the Government of Japan, has convened a consortium of international experts. In fact, according to expert opinions, the move to an energy sector with zero carbon emissions in Uzbekistan by 2050 is quite feasible, both technically and economically.

In 2020, a tender was announced for the construction of two photovoltaic plants with a capacity of at least 200 MW each in the Samarkand and Jizzakh regions. Applications for participation in the tender were submitted by 83 companies, a major increase in investor interest.

On May 20, 2021, according to the results of the study and evaluation of technical and commercial proposals of applicants, the tender commission declared Masdar (UAE) the winner with a tariff offer of 1.79 cents per kWh of electricity for the project for the construction of a 220 MW solar power plant in the Kattakurgan district of Samarkand region. Masdar was also recognised as the winner of the project for the construction of a solar power plant in the Gallyaaral district of Jizzakh region, offering a tariff of 1.82 cents per kWh for a power plant with a capacity of 220 MW.

Elmira Bekmurodova,
Advisor to the Minister and Press Secretary
Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Uzbekistan