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From Sabotage to Negligence: Kyrgyz Parliament Seeks to Hold Bishkek Plant Management Accountable After Accident

A special commission is working at the Bishkek thermal power (CHP) plant to find out the cause of the recent accident, with the President of Kyrgyzstan stating that he's taken personal control over the investigation. At a meeting of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic today, MPs demanded the plant's management be held accountable - the same management which issues reassurances that there would be no accidents this winter, and that all equipment was ready for the cold season. "At a strategic facility, the manager has changed three times during the year. It is good that the accident happened at night and not during the day. The damage is said to have exceeded one billion som ($11 million). How many people were hurt, and who will be held responsible? The leaders must answer," MP Emil Toktoshev said, addressing those gathered at the meeting. "It is time to move from just a visual inspection of machinery and equipment to a fully-fledged technical audit, and not only [the Bishkek plant], but, in general, all boiler and power plants should be inspected not by eye. Let's find out what the problems and what needs to be done," said MP Dastan Bekeshev. In the early hours of February 2nd, an incident at the Bishkek CHP plant injured five people, and the city was left without heat and hot water for several days. The interdepartmental commission has been tasked with identifying the cause of the accident within a month. Based on this analysis, a list of urgent tasks will be developed which they say will ensure a stable end to the fall-winter heating period of 2023-24. Measures will also be drawn up to prevent similar situations in the future, including proposals for the reconstruction of the plant, and the decentralization of Bishkek's entire heating system. The Bishkek Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case over the accident.

Chinese Partners To Help Modernize Uzbekistan’s Electric Power Industry

The development of renewable energy is a priority for Uzbekistan, with the country aiming for a quarter of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.  To meet this target the Ministry of Energy has spoken of the need to attract more international companies to work in the sector, and to train better qualified professionals. With this in mind, JSC Uzenergoengineering — the country’s largest electric power design institute — has recently signed two agreements with Chinese partners.  The first agreement is with the China Electric Power Planning and Engineering Institute (EPPEI) on the creation of a joint venture in Uzbekistan. The new venture will develop short- and long-term plans for the Uzbek power industry, conduct technical and economic studies, provide consultation services to local enterprises, and train personnel. The second agreement was signed with Energy China International, a subsidiary of China Energy Engineering Group Corporation Limited, one of the world’s largest energy companies. The parties agreed to set up a new institute in Uzbekistan with a preliminary investment of $30m. This institute will train high-level professionals, and introduce new technologies into the country’s electric power industry.

Uzbekistan’s energy production figures have fallen

According to the Agency of Industrial Production Statistics, Uzbekistan's gas production fell by 9.6% (4.97 billion cubic meters) last year compared to 2022, amounting to 46.7 billion cubic meters. Thus, the average monthly gas production is 3.89 billion cubic meters, while in 2022, 4.3 billion cubic meters of gas was produced per month. In December, however, production has already increased to 3.95 billion cubic meters. This was the highest since April. However, it could not even come close to the figure for December 2022 - 4.35 billion cubic meters, which is up by 9% (395.1 million cubic meters). However, thanks to gas supplies from Russia and Turkmenistan, the shortfall was bridged. In 2023, however, electricity production increased significantly - from 73.7 billion to 76.9 billion kWh, i.e. by 3.19 billion kWh (4.3%). In December alone, 7.27 billion kWh were generated. If we start counting from May, this is the limit. And this is despite the above-mentioned troubles with gas production, because about 80-85% of electricity in Uzbekistan is produced by thermal power plants, and they in turn operate on gas. However, their share in the country is decreasing due to the introduction of new capacities of photovoltaic power plants. Also, coal production exceeded its previous figures - up to 6.19 million tons (15.5%). In December, for example, 456.7 thousand tons of coal were produced, and from July to November the figure did not fall below 600 tons. And again to the bad: from 787.8 thousand to 770.1 thousand tons (-2.3%, or by 17.7 thousand tons) the oil production index decreased. And this decline was observed for the fifth month in a row - from 64.7 thousand tons in July to 60.8 thousand in December. This is the lowest figure for the last couple of years! Nevertheless, Uzbekistan produced 75.4 thousand tons (6%) more motor gasoline in 2023 than in 2022. Diesel fuel output also increased by 212.4 thousand tons (26.6%) to 1.01 million tons. At the same time, the indicator of heat energy production decreased from 26.5 to 24.4 million Gcal (by 8.1%), and gas condensate production decreased from 1.29 to 1.2 million tons (by 6.9%). Nevertheless, no matter what problems in the energy sector put sticks in the wheels, according to the Agency of Statistics Uzbekistan managed to achieve a 6% growth in industrial production

Uzbek President Mirziyoyev Lauds Strategic Partnership with China

The president of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev will make a state visit to China from January 23rd to 25th, at the invitation of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. On the eve of the visit, the Chinese People's Daily Online published an article by Mirziyoyev, entitled “Uzbekistan and China: millennia-long friendship and cooperation,” in which the Uzbek leader says that Uzbekistan is a friendly neighbor and committed strategic partner to China, and that the development of multifaceted relations with China has always been one of the main priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign policy. Mirziyoyev wrote that Uzbek-Chinese relations are experiencing the best period in their history, with trade, economic and investment cooperation steadily growing. Last year bilateral trade turnover grew by 40 per cent, Mirziyoyev wrote, with China being Uzbekistan’s “top trade partner”. In recent years the volume of Chinese investments in Uzbekistan has increased five-fold, and the number of enterprises with Chinese capital in various sectors of the economy has tripled. A number of large joint investment projects are underway, spanning sectors including technology, alternative energy, chemicals, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, electrical engineering and infrastructure modernization. Mirziyoyev added that “thanks to our Chinese partners, we are taking important steps in developing green energy to create 27 gigawatts of renewable energy generation capacity by 2030”. Mirziyoyev emphasized that Uzbekistan is actively involved in implementing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has become a global consolidating force. “In 10 years, this grandiose idea of the revival of the Great Silk Road has gained supporters in all corners of the planet, uniting two-thirds of the world's countries. Today, from an appealing concept, it is turning into a practical reality. For us, the BRI is not just an infrastructure project. Through the joint implementation of the initiative, the region is becoming an important link in global connectivity, overcoming transport remoteness.” “Today, we can firmly state that the earlier voiced predictions of skeptics about the predestined fate of the region's countries to become only a transit corridor for China's trade with Europe, South Asia and the Middle East failed to come true,” Mirziyoyev stressed. “Today, investments are increasing in Central Asia, with the number of joint high-technology industries growing, enhancing the economic potential of our countries. China's strategic role enables Central Asia to be open to broad cooperation with the rest of the world, turning the region's geographical disadvantages into advantages.” The Uzbek president also said that the first summit between the heads of state of the Central Asian countries and China, held in May 2023 in Xi'an, was a breakthrough in their relations and set out the future development of multilateral cooperation. “This format has huge potential for building a model of comprehensive development of the states of the region and the western provinces of China, opens the prospects for the transition to close industrial and technological cooperation, as well as the development of transport, digital and humanitarian connectivity of the Central Asian countries with China,” Mirziyoyev said.

Government Addresses Electricity Generation

In order to ensure a reliable supply of power, in the coming years Kazakhstan will gradually be introducing new energy-generating capacities and modernizing existing power plants. The country is also aiming for a significant reduction in coal-based electricity generation through the introduction of renewable energy sources and electricity generated from natural gas. At a government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov on January 16th, Energy Minister, Almasadam Satkaliev reported that there are 220 power plants in operation in Kazakhstan, including 144 renewable energy facilities with a total capacity of 2.8 GW. As of January 1st, 2024, the country’s total available generation capacity was 20.4 GW, and the maximum consumption in the current autumn-winter period was 16.6 GW. The minister said that in 2023, Kazakhstan’s electrical energy consumption was 115 billion kWh, compared to 112.9 billion kWh in 2022. Power generation amounted to 112.8 billion kWh, the import of electrical energy was 3.4 billion kWh, and export 1.4 billion kWh. The Prime Minister emphasized that the Head of State had ordered that an additional generating capacity of at least 14 GW be commissioned, which is also necessary to achieve the goal of doubling the country’s GDP. “To do this, we need rapid development of the energy industry,” Smailov said. To achieve a 15% share of renewable energy by 2030, major projects will be implemented with strategic investors, such as Total Energies, ACWA Power and Masdar, he stated.

USAID Provides $1.4 Million to Strengthen Central Asia’s Power Sector

On January 10th, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handed over $1.4 million of modern energy sector management equipment and software to the Coordinating Dispatch Center (CDC) Energia in Tashkent. This cutting-edge technology will allow CDC Energia’s dispatchers to display relevant information for maintaining the region’s energy regime, the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan reported. This investment will enhance Central Asia’s ability to manage and monitor electricity flows to ensure the stability of the power grid and foster increased opportunities for the regional trade in electricity. It will also modernize the work of CDC Energia as a regional Systems Operator, which faces an increasing number of challenges in connection with the intensive integration of renewable energy sources and the introduction of the electricity and capacity market in Central Asia. The Deputy Minister of Energy of Uzbekistan, Akmal Jumanazarov, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Jonathan Henick, USAID/Uzbekistan Mission Director, David Hoffman, and the Head of CDC Energia, Khamidilla Shamsiev attended the ceremony. Ambassador Henick emphasized Uzbekistan’s prominent role in the region’s energy sector, stating that “Uzbekistan plays a vital role in the region due to its central geographical location, abundant energy resources, and key infrastructure. As Central Asia’s power system expands and becomes more complex, innovative solutions are imperative for energy sector development planning. Together, we are creating the foundation for a sustainable future to address the complex challenges of energy transition.” This delivery of modern equipment was possible through USAID’s flagship regional energy project, Power Central Asia. With a total budget of $39 million over a five-year period, the project aims to improve the performance of the energy sector, expedite clean energy development, and enhance energy security and resiliency through greater regional connectivity and expanded cross-border electricity trade. Through this project alone, USAID has leveraged $2.2 billion in clean energy investments and facilitated the installation of 2,241 megawatts of clean energy capacity across Central Asia to date. The equipment’s installation is a significant step to achieving a more resilient and efficient energy landscape in Uzbekistan and the broader region, aligning with the high-level priorities outlined in the joint decree by the presidents of the U.S. and all five Central Asian nations. In a joint statement, the parties made it known that “Through C5+1 programs such as USAID Power Central Asia, the United States and Central Asian states will unlock the economic benefits of regional clean energy trade and a clean economy future.”

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