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Interest of foreign investors in renewable energy projects in Uzbekistan is growing

13 March 2020

Uzbekistan sets a goal to increase the share of renewable energy sources (renewable energy sources) in the total volume of electric energy production to 25% by 2030, today this figure is 10%. To achieve such results, the Ministry of Energy is taking active measures to implement large-scale projects in renewable energy.

For 10 years, it is planned to build solar power plants with a total capacity of 5,000 MW and wind power plants with a total capacity of 3,000 MW. To this end, the Ministry of Energy, with the assistance of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is currently implementing a set of measures to competitively select investors for the implementation of these projects, which will be implemented through foreign direct investment.

By the end of 2021, Uzbekistan plans to commission two photovoltaic (solar) power plants of 100 MW each.

In this regard, the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, with the participation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is implementing the Scaling solar II project for the construction of photovoltaic (solar) power plants based on a public-private partnership program. IFC has been recruited as a lead consultant to assist in the structuring and tendering of solar energy projects.

In 2019, in Uzbekistan, with the support of IFC, the first stage of international tender was held, the results of which were announced on 4 October. The tender was held for the construction of the first 100 MW power plant in the Navoi region.

The first stage of the international tender was attended by 23 companies from China, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India, South Africa, Russia, Spain, Norway and France, of which 11 were pre-qualified.

Tender bids were provided by 5 companies: Acwa Power (Saudi Arabia); Jinko Power and Aljoimah Energy & Water Consortium (PRC / Saudi Arabia); "Masdar" (UAE); TBEA Xinjianing Sunoasis Co Ltd (China) and Total Eren (France).

Based on the results of studying and evaluating the technical and commercial proposals of the bidders, the tender commission announced the winner of the first stage of the international tender company Masdar (UAE) with a tariff of 2.679 US cents per 1 kWh of generated electricity and a construction period of 12 months. According to experts from the UAE, the solar power plant will produce 260 million kWh of electricity per year.

Since the beginning of this year, work has been ongoing to organize the second phase of tenders for this project. Within the framework of Scaling solar II, a tender has been announced for the construction of two photovoltaic stations (FES) with a capacity of 200 MW each in the Samarkand and Jizzakh regions of Uzbekistan. Given the effectiveness of the first tender, it is expected that the results of the second will increase the number of participants, which will make it possible to achieve even greater tariff reductions.

We also note that with the participation of Masdar, a project will be implemented to build wind farms in Uzbekistan. It is planned to build wind turbines with a total capacity of 500 MW near Zarafshan.

Masdar is a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Government Investment Holding Company Mubadala Investment Company and one of the leading international renewable energy companies in the world. The portfolio of implemented investment projects of the company includes more than 4000 MW of installed capacity for generating electricity from renewable sources.

The EBRD also provides effective support to the Government of Uzbekistan in the development of wind energy projects with a total capacity of 1,000 MW. A tender in Karakalpakstan at 100 MW will soon be announced.

With the support of the Asian Development Bank, the Ministry of Energy on 1 February launched the first pilot project for the construction of a solar power station in the Sherabad district of Surkhandarya region was announced. This project is part of the Program for the creation of 1 GW of solar energy, developed by the Government of Uzbekistan with the support of the Asian Development Bank.

According to the project, a solar power plant with a capacity of at least 200 MW of alternating current will be built, including a new substation with a voltage of 220 kV and a transmission line with a length of 52 km to connect to a 500 kV substation Surkhan.

To date, 54 companies have submitted applications for participation in the tender, which proves a strong growth of investor interest in implementing renewable energy projects in Uzbekistan. In addition, the geography of the contest participants expanded, which included new companies, including from Europe.

ADB assists the Government of Uzbekistan in implementing fundamental reforms in the energy sector, including surveys aimed at developing solar energy in the country, starting with the opening of the Solar Energy Institute in 2013, the adoption of the Solar Energy Development Roadmap in 2014 and the launch of a number of studies to assess potential solar energy in Uzbekistan.

At the same time, the Government of Uzbekistan is actively conducting direct negotiations with large companies that have offered good conditions for their participation in renewable energy projects.

In particular, the TOTAL Eren company (France) will build a photovoltaic station in Nurabad district of Samarkand region. The corresponding agreement on the construction and operation of a solar power station with a total capacity of 100 MW was signed in September 2019. The legal basis for this project was the agreement and the corresponding decision during the official visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan to France in October 2018.

With another large company - ACWA Power (Saudi Arabia), an agreement was signed on the construction of a wind power station with a capacity of 500-1000 MW. At the same time, investments will amount to 550-1.1 billion US dollars. The commissioning date for the wind farm is scheduled for 2023.

ACWA Power is a developer, investor and operator of power plants and desalination plants. The company currently operates in 12 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, ACWA Power’s portfolio includes 56 assets with an investment value of US$45.5 billion, generating 31 GW of electricity and 5.2 million m3/day of desalinated water.

Founded in 2004 in Riyadh, ACWA Power today is a co-owner of nine Saudi conglomerates, including Vision International Investment Company, Public Investment Fund (UIF), and Saudi Arabia State Pension Agency.

The number of renewable energy projects in stages in Uzbekistan is constantly growing. The investors’ proposals for these projects, none of which imply the provision of state guarantees, eloquently indicates a significant increase in the interest of major players in the energy market for serious work in our country.