Middle East-Uzbekistan renewable cooperation getting energised

Uzbekistan has set a goal to generate 8GW of electricity through solar and wind plants by 2030

Burj Khalifa marks Uzbekistan Independence Day. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Image used for illustrative purpose

Burj Khalifa marks Uzbekistan Independence Day. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Image used for illustrative purpose

Modern Uzbekistan sets itself ambitious, but achievable energy goals. Our economy is developing, our population is growing — as is the income of our citizens. This all affects domestic demand for electricity, which is increasing.

At the same time, Uzbekistan together with the whole world is determined to take measures to minimise the consequences of climate change, improve the energy efficiency of the economy, conserve natural resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Uzbekistan has set a goal to generate 8GW of electricity through solar and wind plants by 2030. This is a significant step in our strategic transition to a green economy and the creation of sustainable green jobs.

However, it is impossible to implement such ambitious plans without support. International assistance, technology, experience and capital is required.

Fortunately, our near neighbours in the Middle East — with their vast energy sector experience — reached very similar conclusions before we did and have already invested heavily in the education and infrastructure needed.

Masdar, also known as the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, is an increasingly important partner in our solar and wind development programme. In 2020, we signed a power purchase agreement to design, finance, build and operate a 500MW utility-scale wind project.

This year, Masdar has been at the heart of our solar progress. In May, Masdar was the winning bidder of a competitive tender for two 220 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in the Jizzakh and Samarkand regions of our country. They also won another tender for construction of a 457 MW solar PV plant, in our Surkhandarya region.

The UAE has always been an important trading partner of Uzbekistan, but bilateral cooperation grows more year-on-year. A significant role in the development of this partnership was played by the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and his visit to the UAE in 2019, which was followed by several energy agreements.

Significant support is also coming from Saudi Arabia. In May, ACWA Power signed an implementation agreement to develop, build and operate a mammoth 1,500MW wind project in Karakalpakstan, Western Uzbekistan. Once the project comes online, Uzbekistan will become home to the largest wind farm in Central Asia and one of the largest in the world. It will generate enough clean energy to power two million homes and offset 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Earlier this year, ACWA also concluded agreements for two wind power projects in the Bukhara region, with combined total power capacity of 1,000MW.

These are huge projects and are just the beginning. We are counting on our partnerships in the Middle East to help us meet our growing energy demands in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, bringing innovative Middle Eastern energy experience to our country.

This is extremely important as Central Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. The pandemic has shown an inextricable link between human health and the environment, economic and social progress. In the words of our President, "We can no longer ignore the signals that nature itself sends us.”

Middle East leaders, both at a corporate and political level, are helping Uzbekistan tackle this challenge and meet our renewable energy targets.

In 2022, Uzbekistan will host an international conference - Green Energy for Developing Countries. We look forward to welcoming our very close friends from the Middle East, who are sharing their clean energy experience with us.

Alisher Sultanov is Energy Minister of Uzbekistan. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy.


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