THE DEVELOPMENT OF TAJIKISTAN’S ENERGY INDUSTRY IN CENTRAL ASIA TODAY
Georgy Petrov, D.Sc. (Technology), Head of the Hydropower Laboratory, Institute for Water Problems, Tajikistan Academy of Sciences, Academician of the International Energy Academy (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)
All of Central Asia’s river water resources are transborder and used by the upstream countries (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) for generating electricity and by the downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) for irrigation. However, since the 1980s, the region has been experiencing an acute shortage of water for irrigation farming, while only 5% of the hydropower resources are being tapped.
The future of Tajikistan’s economy, a country situated on the upper reaches of the rivers of the Aral Sea Basin, depends entirely on the accelerated development of the energy industry. However, Tajikistan does not have any industrial reserves of oil and gas, while its coal fields are difficult to develop since most of them are located in hard-to-access mountainous regions. This means that the only way to successfully build up Tajikistan’s energy industry is to develop the country’s hydro resources, of which the country has enormous reserves.
Building small hydropower plants is only expedient in terms of supplying energy to small consumers in the remote mountainous regions. Completion of the Rogun Hydropower Plant on the Vakhsh River, the construction of which began in the 1970s, is the most promising hydropower project in Tajikistan today. The hydropower plant building site currently boasts a developed infrastructure. According to expert assessments, the plant is around 30-40% complete. Once in full operation, the Rogun Hydropower Plant will make it possible to double electricity generation and ensure sustainable development of the republic’s economy in the near future.
However, we should keep in mind that the Vakhsh River is a transborder river; the Rogun Hydropower Plant can only function efficiently if its construction and exploitation are safe and reliable, and if the national interests of the downstream countries are taken into account. These countries must officially define their interests in the form of specific demands regarding the regulation of water runoff regimes.
Keywords: Central Asia, Tajikistan, the hydropower industry, conflict of interests, the Rogun Hydropower Plant, security, interstate cooperation.
Water resources have been the font of life for the people of Central Asia from time immemorial. Water is not only used here for household and industrial needs, but largely for irrigation farming, the produce of…………..