TAJIKISTANS HYDROPOWER RESOURCES

Georgi PETROV


Georgi Petrov, Ph.D. (Technology), advisor to the republics power engineering minister (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)


The U.N. has declared 2003 the International Year of Freshwater. This is because of its immense importance for the whole of mankind, since water is the wellspring of all life on earth. And in Tajikistan water is also the wellspring of the power industry, which came into being literally before the eyes of one generation. People are still living today who saw Varzob-1, the first industrial hydroelectric power plant, with a capacity of 17.15 MW go into operation. And in the 1980s, the construction of new large hydroelectric power plants began in the republic; the Rogun plant with a capacity of 3,600 MW, the two Sangtudin plants with a total capacity of 870 MW, and the Nizhnekafirnigan plant with a capacity of 100 MW, while preparations have also begun for building the Shurob power plant with a capacity of 900 MW. The last major power plant, at Baipazin, has a capacity of 600 MW. It was put into operation in 1986. By this time, the Nurek power plant was already in operation in the republic with the highest earthen embankment in the world of 300 m and a reservoir of 10.5 cubic km in volume. By the 1990s, the total capacity of the Tajik energy system had reached 4.4 million kW, which is the same as it is today. We will note that during this entire time only two small thermal power plants have gone into operation, one in Dushanbe with a capacity of 196 MW, and the other in Iavan with a capacity of 120 MW, whereby there are no plans to build more thermal power plants any time soon.

In so doing, a conception for the further development of hydroelectric power has been drawn up (see Table 1).

Table 1

Development Conception of Hydroelectric Power for 1991-2005 (plan-forecast made in 1990)

1991-1995

1996-2000

2001-2005

After 2005

Capacities put into operation,

thou MW

4.32

7.21

10.87

29.13

Increase in average annual production of electric power, TWh

14.03

33.4

39.36

111.61

Investments, mill. USD

4,370

6,483

13,051

30,281

Source: U.S.S.R. Ministry of Power Engineering, the Energoproekt State R & D Organization, the Zhuk Gidroproekt All-Union R & D and Scientific Research Association, Moscow, 1990.

After implementation of this program, the per capita consumption of electric power reached by the end of the 1980s of 2,700 kWh per year should have risen to 35,500 kWh, which is several times higher than in the most developed countries of the world, and the republic would have become an electric power exporter. But implementation of this program was thwarted by the collapse in the Soviet Union and the breakdown in Tajikistans economic ties with other former Union republics manufacturing technical equipment and construction technology and engaging in technical and scientific project support.

All the same, the construction of new hydroelectric power plants has not been abandoned. Installations have been preserved and maintained in good condition, and the question has currently been taken up again of putting them back into operation by attracting funds from international financial organizations.

The priority development of hydroelectric power in particular is defined by the countrys resource potential. In terms of absolute values, Tajikistan essentially has no real supplies of oil and gas compared with the other Central Asian republics. For instance, whereas supplies of standard fuel reach 4.5 billion tons for the entire region, our country accounts for only 0.05 billion tons of this amount. Nevertheless, Tajikistans coal supplies, like those for all the Central Asian republics, are quite substantial, but enormous expenses are required to develop the fields in order to use them. What is more, most of them are in mountainous regions where the terrain is not suitable for building large thermal plants, and the transportation network is underdeveloped.

Nuclear power could be developed from the purely technically standpoint, since Tajikistan has large supplies of uranium and the capacities for processing it. But its development is hindered primarily by the high seismological features of the region and the cautious attitude of the entire population toward the reliability of nuclear reactors, particularly after the Chernobyl disaster. The potential for wind power is not very high since the republic has essentially no regions with an average annual wind speed of 5.5-6.0 m/s required for its introduction. Moreover, wind power is technically complicated, and involves vast investments in the purchase and operation of equipment, the isolation of large areas of land, and so on. Of the other non-traditional sources, solar power deserves attention. But its use is restricted to household needs.

However, Tajikistan has large supplies of cheap and environmentally pure water power. The republic is located in the basin of the two main rivers that feed the Aral Seathe Amudaria and the Syrdaria. What is more, Central Asias main water resources form on its territory (64 cubic km of the total volume of the regions run-off of 115.6 cubic km, i.e. 55.4%), and taking into account the transit run-off of the Syrdaria, the total volume of the countrys water resources amounts to 80 cubic km, or 70% of the regional volume.

It is this last amount that determines the republics potential hydropower resources. In terms of their total supplies, Tajikistan occupies second place in the CIS, after Russia, and eighth in the world, after China, Russia, the U.S., Brazil, Zaire, India, and Canada. In terms of its per capita supplies of 87,800 kWh per person a year, it occupies second place in the world after Iceland, and first place in terms of territorial unit supplies of 3.62 million kWh/cubic km a year. In other words, almost 4% of the worlds hydroelectric power potential is concentrated in Tajikistan, and its total potential resources amount to 527.06 billion kWh a year with an average annual capacity of 60.167 million kW. Of this amount, at least 50%, that is, no less than 260 billion kWh are technically feasible and economically efficient for assimilation at the current level of technology.

The country has more useable hydropower resources than the entire amount of electric power currently manufactured in Central Asia (130.5 billion kWh a year) and come to 56% of the total consumption of primary energy resources in the region, including coal, oil, and gas (149.4 million tons of standard fuel a year).1 In so doing, these resources are distributed throughout the entire republic evenly and are available in a sufficient amount not only on large rivers, but also on medium and small ones. The total structure of these supplies realistically available for industrial use looks as shown in Table 2. (This estimate is commonly used in world statistics.) It should immediately be noted that in this form it presents a distorted picture by underestimating the role of renewable resources, primarily hydroelectric power, in favor of raw mineral resources. This is because mineral fuel is evaluated in terms of its total supplies, while renewable resources are estimated in terms of their annual potential. In order to bring them into harmony, the well-known life cycle concept should be used, which is usually applied in investment projects. This will make it possible to establish the annual potential of mineral fuel resources, which can then be compared with hydroelectric power potential and other renewable resources.

Table 2

General Structure of Tajikistans Energy Resources

(mill. tons of standard fuel)

Hydropower Resources

Coal

Oil

Gas

158.12

667.3

37.0

15.0

Coalfields usually have a life cycle of 50 years, and oil and gas fields of 20 years. With this in mind, the general structure of Tajikistans energy resources, in terms of annual supplies, will look as shown in Table 3. It differs dramatically from the figures presented in Table 2.

Table 3

General Structure of Tajikistans Annual Energy Supplies (keeping in mind their life cycle, mill. tons of standard fuel)

Hydropower Resources

Coal

Oil

Gas

158.12

13.35

1.85

0.75

In this way, it is clear that Tajikistans energy system is based on hydropower resources. But today only 5-6% of their supplies are being used. In any development scenario, our countrys total resources will always be higher than its own needs. So it is expedient to view their use at the regional level.

The orientation of the republics energy system toward hydropower resources defines a whole series of its significant features. Primarily we will note the high economic efficiency, since the cost price of electric power manufactured by the national energy system amounts to 0.4 cents per kWh. So even at the current capacities and average output of 15 billion kWh a year and a rate of one cent/kWh, its total profit will be equal to 90 million USD, at a rate of two cents/kWh, it will increase to 240 million USD, at a rate of three cents/kWh to 400 million USD, and at a rate of five cents/kWh to 700 million USD a year. When new capacities are introduced, they will proportionally increase the profit of the energy system. The republics entire budget is currently equal to 180 million USD. It goes without saying that hydroelectric power could not only become the foundation of the economy, including its export, but also the industry that forms the state budget.

The efficiency of hydroelectric power is determined by the fuel component in its cost price. At the current gas price of $50/ton and fuel consumption rate at thermal power stations of 0.33 kg/kWh, the fuel component is equal to 1.65 cents/kWh. We can see how even a small share of thermal power stations in the energy system dramatically increases its cost price (see Table 4).

Table 4

Percentage of thermal power stations in the energy system

0

0.3

0.5

0.8

Cost price of electric power in the energy system, cents/kWh

0.4

0.9

1.38

1.78

So it is clear that even only 30% of thermal power stations in the energy system increases the cost price of electric power more than two-fold.

The high profit of hydroelectric power is defining the investment policy of the Tajik energy system. There is the real possibility of developing it using the republics own funds. For example, $350 million are needed to complete construction of Sangtudin Hydroelectric Power Plant-1, $450 million to put the first line of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant into operation, and $1,200 to entirely complete its construction. In so doing, the state budget will enjoy a high tax influx. Corresponding calculations done for the next 15 years show that simple reproduction (without building new power plants) and a rate of one cent/kWh will bring the energy system a profit of $756 million, and $504 million will go into the state treasury, that is, the states profit will be equal to $1,260 million. If the energy system gained this much profit, the first line of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant could be built. But implementation of this project would lower the states profit somewhat (to $999 million).

If the rate is increased to two cents/kWh, the republic could not only finish building the Rogun, but also the Sangtudin hydroelectric power plants using its own funds. In so doing, the states total profit would increase from $3,360 million to $3,567 million. And finally at a rate of five cents/kWh, the construction of these two power plants would greatly increase all the profit components, within the system itself, assignations from taxes, and for the state as a whole (from $9,660 million to $13,143 million), which would allow stable development not only of the energy system itself, but of the countrys entire economy.

This makes it clear that a long-term investment policy in power engineering can primarily rely on the states own resources. In so doing, loans will only be a temporary anti-crisis measure. But this does not exclude attracting and using direct investments, particularly taking into account the branchs vast export opportunities.

The policy currently being conducted by the world banks shows that electric power should be developed on the basis of the republics own resources. For example, the Asian Bank for Development (ABD) is currently offering a Tajikistan energy company a rehabilitation credit of $47 million on the condition it raises the electric power rate to two cents/kWh. But at this rate, as shown above, the company itself will have an annual profit of $240 million. It is clear that the ABD credits have one aim, to step up and accelerate the technical rehabilitation and financial upgrading of the industry, which is necessary for its further normal operation.

But here we must keep one thing in mind. All the above profit calculations were made for an integrated energy system. If it is downsized and restructured, as the world banks are currently recommending, the investment components will also be broken down and it will essentially be impossible to join them together again. So the question of reforming power engineering is acquiring special importance for the republic. On the whole, with respect to downsizing the energy system, a kind of economies of scale seems to exist, what is suitable and advantageous for such large countries as the U.S., Russia, and China may be entirely unacceptable for Tajikistan. On the other hand, downsizing the energy system is not an end in itself, but only a means for demonopolizing the industry and creating a normal competitive environment. In the case of Tajikistan, this is not only possible, but can also be done more efficiently at the regional level, that is, by creating a common electric power market for all the Central Asian countries and conditions for their entry into the WTO.

Another feature of hydroelectric power in our republic is its comprehensive designation. In addition to producing electric power, the main functions of the hydroelectric power plants, primarily the Nurek power plant, are irrigation and flood prevention.

As far as flood prevention is concerned, this task is carried out unequivocally, without affecting the other functions. It even works the other way round, by leveling the river run-off (particularly by cutting off the high water peaks), it promotes the normal functioning of both electric power, and irrigation. For example, at the estimated high water on the River Vakhsh of 5,400 cubic m/sec, the maximum consumption of water in the river (downstream from the power station itself) has never exceeded 2,000 cubic m/sec during the entire 25 years the Nurek Hydroelectric Power Plant has been in operation. This has made it possible to significantly expand the economic assimilation zone of the entire flood-lands in the lower reaches of the Vakhsh (below the power plant). The territory assimilated as a result has more than compensated for the losses incurred from submergence of the land, which was moreover much lower in quality than the flood-lands.

The relations between hydroelectric power and irrigation are much more complicated. Their interests contradict each other. The optimal energy operational conditions at the power plants are to fill the reservoirs in the summer when the high mountain glaciers melt, and produce as much electric power in the winter during the arid and coldest part of the year. The irrigation conditions, however, are the opposite; they require filling the reservoirs in the winter and irrigating in the summer, during the vegetation period for sowing.

These contradictions became clearly manifest after the collapse in the Soviet Union and the formation of the new independent states in Central Asia. Then the interests of electric power and irrigation acquired a national character, since Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, located on the upper reaches of the rivers and in the areas where the run-off forms, were interested in the power plants operating under electric power conditions, and Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, located downstream, were interested in them working under irrigation conditions.

The most difficult situation arose in the basin of the River Syrdaria, where as early as the 1980s, all the water resources were fully assimilated and already running short. (These contradictions could even cause local environmental disasters, which we will show below using this river basin as an example when discussing environmental issues.)

In order to manage the waterpower complex at the regional level, special interstate structures have been formed. For example, in 1990, the Syrdaria and Amudaria Basin Hydroeconomic Associations (BHA) were organized. They are responsible for all the main hydroeconomic irrigation facilities, which these structures directly manage. In 1992, the Interstate Hydroeconomic Coordination Commission (IHCC) was formed with its Scientific Information Center (SIC IHCC). It sets forth the general policy for using the regions waterpower resources, resolves questions regarding water distribution, and approves the annual operational conditions for the power plants and reservoirs. In the same year, 1992, the Electric Power Council of Central Asia and its executive structure, the Joint Dispatch Control Center (Central Asia JDC), were formed. They directly supervise coordination of the working conditions for the energy systems, ensuring their sustainable operation. What is more, the International Foundation for Saving the Aral (IFSA) is engaged in the regions problems. Here we will note that the largest number of interstate agreements have been signed regarding the joint use of the waterpower resources of the regions countries.

According to these documents, all the Central Asian republics recognize the communality and integration of the regions water resources, as well as the equal rights to their use and responsibility for their rational consumption and protection. At the first stage, immediately after the collapse in the Soviet Union, all the previously signed agreements, treaties, and other normative acts in effect for regulating interrelations regarding the water resources in the Aral Basin were accepted for unconditional implementation. This ensured the necessary continuity and conditions for non-conflict implementation of political and economic reforms in the republics. What is more, these agreements envisage (as prospective tasks) streamlining the energy system and raising water use discipline in the basin, as well as drawing up interstate legal and normative acts on the use of common principles regarding damage and loss compensation.

Specific questions on coordinating interests between electric power and irrigation are being resolved on the basis of the Agreement on the Use of Waterpower Resources of the Syrdaria River Basin signed by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan (17 March, 1998, Bishkek), which sets forth the operational conditions for the power plants and energy system with respect to compensating mutual water delivery services and the electric power produced in the process. Unfortunately, despite all of these measures, it has been impossible to resolve this question so far, although there is a radical way to resolve this problem. Its gist, paradoxically, lies in stepping up the development of hydroelectric power even more. For the current contradictions between hydroelectric power and irrigation are related to the fact that there is only one large reservoir in each of republics located upstream: Toktogul in Kyrgyzstan, and Kairakkum in Tajikistan. It stands to reason that they cannot operate under electric power and irrigation conditions at the same time. If there were more of them, it would be entirely possible to distribute their functions. In so doing, from all viewpoints, the development of hydroelectric power is primarily effective in the mountainous regions, where there are all the conditions for creating high-pressure hydrosystems with reservoirs.

Tajikistans energy system is part of Central Asias integrated energy system created during Soviet times and is still basically in operation today. Like before, it is still vitally important for Tajikistan. Most of its electric power is produced in the south of the republic (at the cascade of the Vakhsh Hydroelectric Power Station), which does not have a direct link to the norththe Sogd Region. So the latter receives 85% of the electric power it needs (approximately 3.5 billion kWh a year) from Uzbekistan, which in turn receives the same amount of electric power from Tajikistan in the south for the Surkhandaria Region. For direct transfer of energy from the south to the north of our country, an electric transmission line of 500 kW, 350 km in length, and costing $150 million must be built. But this project is economically inefficient.

Regional cooperation is also very important for our republic from the standpoint of its resource base. The special feature of Central Asia is the fact that it is largely self-sufficient with respect to all types of energy and water resources (if they are rationally used), but they are distributed very unevenly among certain countries. The main oil supplies are concentrated in Kazakhstan, gas resources in Turkmenistan, with Uzbekistan somewhere in-between, while Tajikistan (as we have already noted) and Kyrgyzstan have essentially no supplies of mineral fuel. But on the other hand, it is precisely in these two latter countries, primarily Tajikistan, that the regions main water resources form. In so doing, Tajikistan only requires a very small percentage of these resources, while the main water consumers are Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. What is more, the main opportunities for regulating the run-off are enjoyed by Dushanbe and Bishkek. And the further assimilation of energy resources will only increase these opportunities, which may become the springboard for launching Tajikistan into the regions economy.

From the viewpoint of the environment, hydroelectric power not only does not pollute the atmosphere, it also helps to improve it by removing mineral fuel from use. For example, assimilation of Tajikistans water potential (260 billion kWh a year) is in the interests of the entire region since it would make it possible to reduce the combustion of hydrocarbons at thermal power stations by 84 million tons a year, in turn decreasing the emission of exhaust gases by 250 million tons a year, and making a significant contribution to improving the regions environment. Of course, this does not mean that Tajikistans power industry has no environmental problems at all. They exist, whereby with both pros and cons.

Let us start with the reservoirs. The negative factors primarily consist of bank erosion and the flooding (or submergence) of nearby land. What is more, the temperature conditions of the water downstream could change, making it more transparent due to sedimentation. From the viewpoint of irrigation, this could lower the quality of the water according to some data. All these factors are taking place to one extent or another in the Nurek and Kairakkum reservoirs. In addition, certain problems are also possible relating to the draw off or fill up conditions used in the reservoirs for electric power and irrigation purposes. A characteristic example in this respect is the Charvak reservoir in Uzbekistan. With a large number of suspended loads in the Chirchik River, the hot climate, and the corresponding wind rose, the intense draw off from this reservoir at the end of the summer leads to the formation of dust storms that affect a vast territory downstream. Combating these storms involves serious financial outlays.

The positive factors of the reservoirs (in addition to their main functions of course) include a reduction in the seismic activity of the neighboring region due to the additional load and the reduced firmness of the Earth crust from moisture. This (all together) is initiating a large number of small earthquakes and decreasing the likelihood of major ones. What is more, the reservoirs protect against flash floods, improve the microclimate of the nearby territory, and create possibilities for their recreational use.

As for the changes in flow conditions, there are not usually many negative consequences in this respect. They are mainly caused by daily and weekly regulation of the run-off, which does not take place in large reservoirs. At the same time, the negative consequences are more than compensated for by the fact that these changes in flow conditions dramatically lower the natural fluctuations in run-off, allowing more efficient use of the riverbanks. The Vakhsh River is a case in point.

And finally we cannot forget that the dams, which form the reservoirs, are highly dangerous structures. If they collapse and a powerful surge of water forms, this could have extremely serious consequences. In this respect, it is expedient to compare the major power plants of Central Asia with Sarez Lake, which has a water volume of 17 cubic km and as a regional threat is arousing concern and drawing attention throughout the world. But the reservoirs of large hydroelectric power stations have approximately the same (and at times greater) parameters: Nurek has a volume of 10.5 cubic km, and Toktogul of 19 cubic km. But in so doing, the volume of the Nurek dam is almost 50-fold less than that of Sarez. What is more, the run-off of water via Sarez Lake occurs automatically, whereas via power plants it occurs with the help of special tunnels, sluices, and other very complex equipment controlled by people. All of this requires constant and very careful supervision. Of course, the risks involved with major power plants are no less than with Sarez Lake.

All of these negative factors have been well analyzed, the reasons are known, and how they work is understood. So there are no technical hurdles to completely eliminating or reducing these factors to an admissible, that is, safe level. What is more, such measures are usually envisaged and incorporated at the project development and experts examination stage. Unfortunately, they are not always implemented, and if they are, only to the extent required for operating the installations.

Problems relating to the management of the entire hydroelectric power complex and to the operation of installations on transborder rivers are more complicated and important at present for the ecological safety of hydroelectric power, that is, in the final analysis, problems caused by the human factor.

Most characteristic in this respect is the Syrdaria River Basin, where a rather intense water balance has developed. In this basin, as in Central Asia on the whole, water resources have been developed comprehensively, primarily in the interests of electric power and irrigation. So reservoirs have been created at all the major hydroelectric power plants here that allow significant and sometimes cardinal regulation of the river run-off. These, for example, are the Toktogul reservoir in Kyrgyzstan with a volume of 19 cubic km, and the Kairakkum reservoir in Tajikistan with a volume of 4.2 cubic km.

As we have already noted, due to natural climatic, economic, social, and several other reasons, the interests of the regions countries regarding the use of its water and energy resources have diverged. From the very beginning, it was clear that uncoordinated management of the reservoirs could lead to serious problems. So on 17 March, 1998, several Central Asian countries signed an agreement On the Joint Use of the Hydropower Resources of the Syrdaria River Basin, which was joined on 17 June 1999 by Tajikistan. It stipulates coordinating the operational conditions of the Naryn-Syrdaria reservoir cascades by means of reciprocal services and compensations.

On the basis of this general, framework document, individual republics enter bilateral agreements every year that set forth specific systems and conditions, according to which the basic volume of compensations is stipulated for the Kyrgyz side, the owner of Toktogul, the largest reservoir in the basin. Unfortunately, despite all of this, it has not been possible to coordinate all the interests relating to the use of the hydropower resources of the Syrdaria Basin. For example, Kyrgyzstan is not performing the obligations it assumed with respect to irrigation regulation of the run-off and mainly operates under electric power conditions that suit its own priorities, drawing off water in the winter and accumulating it in the summer. Apart from everything else, increased winter discharge from the Toktogul reservoir is the reason for the unfavorable situation in the middle reaches of the Syrdaria, below the Chardaria power plant. Due to the insufficient throughput capacity of the river at Kzyl-Orda, the assimilated land is submerged and water goes into the Arnasai depression, which is aggravating the problem of the Aral Sea. And although this situation is aroused by the fact that when building protecting structures in the Syrdaria Kazakhstan violated all the current construction norms and regulations, this only confirms the thesis that today environmental problems in the hydropower complex are largely related to management decisions.

Until recently, the situation was corrected by Tajikistan (to some extent) by regulating the river run-off by means of the Kairakkum reservoir in the interests of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistans irrigation complex. But first, in contrast to Toktogul, this reservoir can carry out only seasonal, and not ongoing regulation of the run-off, which is insufficient in the long term. Second, since it does not receive enough compensation for the services it renders, Dushanbe is regulating the run-off simply out of old habit, thus manifesting good will. But even in this case sustainable use of the basins hydropower resources is not ensured. And under current market conditions, this system cannot exist for long. Working under electric power conditions, Kyrgyzstan draws off more water from the Toktogul reservoir in years with normal (even increased) water intake than the amount that enters it. And Bishkek has already come forward with an official statement to the effect that in arid years, the water it is allotted for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistans irrigation complex could run 1.5 billion cubic meters short, which at best will lead to 150,000 hectares of irrigable land going out of circulation.

But the situation is even more alarming. As a forecast made by the Kyrgyz side shows, if there are several arid years in a row, the Toktogul reservoir could completely dry up (to a dead storage). In so doing, the water shortage in the region during the vegetation period will amount to 3-5 billion cubic meters. And this is already an environmental disaster.

Summing up the aforesaid, we will note that under current conditions management of the hydroelectric power systems is becoming a factor that could have the most serious impact not only on the economy, but also on the environment. It is an interstate problem, and it must be resolved at the corresponding level.

The unfavorable situation in the Syrdaria Basin is in no way due to objective reasons, it is the result of uncoordinated management. The Toktogul reservoir was built precisely to prevent this, the main task of which is long-term regulation of the river run-off (which was observed right up until 1992). It is not performing its functions at present since there are no corresponding agreements between the countries.

The above-mentioned shows the significant advantages of Tajikistans hydroelectric power system, its high economic efficiency, broad functional trends, environmental purity, and safety, compared with the energy systems of other countries in the region, which are based primarily on thermal power stations. But all these advantages are manifested only during normal operation of the energy system, which was the case in the 1980s, for instance. At that time, at a rate of 1.1 cents per kWh, the systems total economic profit amounted on average to 95.88 million USD a year. Not counting amortization expenses of $136.23 million, and extracting economically unjustified expenses on fuel for thermal power stations from the cost price, its total profit reached $157.16 million, which corresponds to a profitability of 225%. And finally, profit from hydropower itself, that is, not counting the funds spent on electricity, averaged $227.12 million a year (with a profitability of 800%) during the same years.

Today, unfortunately, Tajikistans energy system is essentially in a crisis. First, its financial state has dramatically deteriorated. For example, in light of the overall economic slump and insolvency of all groups of consumers (even at the extremely low rate that existed until recently of 0.4 cents/kWh, which did not exceed the cost price of electric power), payment for the use of electricity over the past ten years has not topped 60%. Nevertheless, its losses and nonproduction costs have increased manifold down the whole line, from production to consumption. What is more, the energy consumption of production has dramatically increased in all branches of the economy. Against an overall drop in the GDP (in terms of purchasing power parityPPP) between 1992 and 2000 from $9.3 to $6.12 billion, the energy consumption of production has increased from 1.94 to 2.79 kWh/dollar in the same time. If we make our calculations in accordance with the general banking exchange rate, these indices are four times worse. Theoretically, in terms of every world criterion, the Tajik power system is currently bankrupt.

This crisis is explained by the following reasons. First, the low electricity rates already mentioned, which on average amount to 0.35-0.47 cents per kWh, and the low payment for its consumption, which at best is no more than 60%. As a result, energy companies today are more than $50 million in debt. Second, the devaluation of basic fundsdue to the administrative reforms of 1995, their cost has decreased dozens of times. Whereas in 1990, the energy systems basic assets were evaluated at $1.57 million, in 2000, they had dropped to below $100 million. As a result, the assignations to repair and renovation funds decreased in the same ratio. Third, reform of the financial credit system, as a result of which, the monetary stock drastically shrank. Consequently, since 2000, it (the M2 monetary aggregate) is no more than 5% of the GDP. In so doing, most payments are made on a barter basis.

What is more, the technical state of all the energy systems installations has significantly deteriorated. The first signs of trouble are the accidents that are occurring. The reliability of the energy systems installations has also greatly decreased, which (apart from everything else) is related to their field study. The setting up of monitoring and measuring equipment during the construction of power plants has still not been completed, and in most cases, the automated gathering and primary processing of data has not been organized. Their technical analysis is not being carried out seriously at all. Previously these functions were entrusted to specialized scientific and design institutions in other former Union republics, ties with which have been severed today.

As a result of all this, the reserves, safety margin and reliability of all the installations of the Central Asian hydropower complex have gradually diminished, and many of them are already exhausted. Serious shortcomings in the industry are also being manifested at the level of interstate ties between the regions republics, particularly with respect to the joint use of hydropower resources.

In so doing, the primary tasks for the republics hydroelectric power system are the following: its financial stimulation, the reinforcement of its technical base, the modernization and reconstruction of its installations and equipment, and the further development and strengthening of contacts with other countries, primarily neighbors. Only this can fully open up all of its vast potential for the welfare of Tajikistan in particular, and of Central Asia as a whole.


1 See: Special U.N. Program for the Economies of Central Asia, SPECA. Research Rational and Efficient Use of Energy Resources of Central Asia.

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