Uzbekistan's Ministry of Energy has published a detailed 'Concept Note' outlining its strategy on electrical generation to the year 2030. The document anticipates a sharp reduction in the country's reliance on gas-fired power generation from the current 83% to 50%, and sets goals for new nuclear, solar and wind power production of 15%, 8% and 7%, respectively.

Uzbekistan plans to build four nuclear power units (Image: Pixabay)

The Central Asian country became a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency as long ago as 1994, has 50 years of experience in nuclear research and is one of the world's biggest producers of uranium. Despite its existing expertise in nuclear energy, Uzbekistan depends almost entirely on fossil fuels. About 86% of its electricity comes from burning gas, coal and oil, while the remainder comes from hydropower. It now has plans to build its first nuclear power plant, to help it keep pace with rising electricity demand and to cut its CO2 emissions.

According to the Concept Note, Uzbekistan's currently available generating capacity totals 12.9 GWe, which comprises 11 GWe of fossil fuel-powered generation (84.8%) and 1.85 GWe (14.3%) of hydro power. It has 11 fossil fuel power plants and 42 hydro power plants.

Between 2012 and 2019, its power generation rose by 2.6% each year on average, but this increase did not keep pace with demand and electricity shortages averaged 9.4% of consumption. Demand is expected to increase by about 6-7% each year up to 2030, when it is forecast to reach 120.8 terawatt hours, which is 1.9 times more than its level in 2018.

The strategy aims to achieve an installed generating capacity of 29.2 GWe after the decommissioning of obsolete assets (5.9 GWe). This includes: 13.4 GWe of natural gas-fired power capacity (45%); 5 GWe of solar PV (17.3%) - including 1 GWe with power storage systems; 3.8 GWe of hydro power capacity (13.1%); 3 GWe (10.4%) of wind power; 2.4 GWe of nuclear power (8.3%); and 1.7 GWe of coal-fired capacity (5.9%).

Uzbekistan and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in December 2017, and in September 2018 a further agreement was signed for the construction by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom of two VVER-1200 reactors. These are to be commissioned in 2028 and 2030, respectively. In July last year, Alisher Sultanov, Uzbekistan’s energy minister, announced the country wants to build four units and not just two as previously stated.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Thursday, 07 May 2020
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