How Uzbekistan is Becoming a Solar Energy Powerhouse
Uzbekistan, one of the world’s most energy- and carbon- intensive countries, relies on fossil fuels to supply 89% of its electricity demand. Hydropower supplies 11%. More than 50% of its thermal power plants were built before 1982, and 10% were built after 1997. Deterioration of the country’s aging thermal power plants and higher energy demand have contributed to a growing electric power deficiency in Uzbekistan.
A widening gap between supply and demand
Uzbekistan needs to tap alternative sources of energy. Projections suggest that its oil reserves will last only until 2026, natural gas reserves could be depleted by 2045, and coal reserves may only be available until 2065.
Uzbekistan’s vast idle land area exposed to high levels of solar irradiance provides an opportunity for solar power to help address the country’s energy security concerns. Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov issued Presidential Decree 4512 (1 March 2013), mandating the creation of advanced solar industries to support the country’s goalsof becoming an international knowledge and technology hub for solar energy and attaining a 21% renewable energy capacity by 2031, including at least 4 gigawatts of solar capacity.
Although Uzbekistan was known for research and development of the solar furnace in 1983, when it was still part of the former Soviet Union, no significant change has occurred since it gained independence in 1991. Solar energy development was limited to academic research.
The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.