IEA (2020), Uzbekistan energy profile, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/uzbekistan-energy-profile, License: CC BY 4.0
As global GDP and population growth have aggravated environmental problems and raised awareness of energy resource limitations, many countries have made the transition to sustainable development their main goal.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research shows that raising the CO2 price to USD 50 per tonne of carbon dioxide (/tCO2) emitted into the atmosphere and expanding the use of RESs would help reduce CO2 emissions 38% by 2030, and 70% by 2050.
Although the energy intensity of Uzbekistan's GDP has been declining in recent years, this indicator remains much higher than that of developed countries. Average global energy intensity of GDP is currently 240 kilogrammes of oil equivalent (kgoe)/USD 1 000. However, the energy intensity of Uzbekistan's GDP is almost four times higher than the European Union’s and twice the world average. As a result, Uzbekistan is one of a group of countries with rather high levels of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP.
Renewable energy potential
In 2018, Uzbekistan ratified the Paris Agreement and adopted a national commitment to reduce GHG emissions per unit of GDP by 10% of the 2010 level by 2030. According to the Strategy on the Transition of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the “Green” Economy for the Period 2019-2030, Uzbekistan aims to increase the share of RESs in total electricity generation to more than 25% by 2030. It also plans to double its energy efficiency indicator, reduce the carbon intensity of GDP, and provide the entire population and all economic sectors with access to modern, inexpensive and reliable energy.
Uzbekistan’s considerable RES potential could spur significant development of a green, environmentally friendly economy. The country’s total RES potential is 117 984 Mtoe, while its technical potential is 179.3 Mtoe.
The bulk of this potential lies in solar energy (total potential of 51 Gtoe and technical potential of 177 Mtoe). In fact, solar energy’s technical potential is almost four times the country’s primary energy consumption. Its favourable climate and geographical location would allow Uzbekistan to use solar energy for a wide range of industrial purposes. Wind energy potential totals 2.2 Mtoe, with 19% technical development possible.
Although total geothermal energy potential (67 Gtoe) exceeds that of solar, the underdevelopment of simple and cost-effective technologies to exploit this type of energy limits technical development to only 0.3 Mtoe.
Uzbekistan’s RES potential
Renewable energy source
50 973 Mtoe
67 000 Mtoe
Total alternative energy sources
117 984 Mtoe
Uzbekistan’s total renewable energy capacity was 1 844 MW in 2018, which covered about 3% of total energy consumption. On average, 10-12% of the country’s total electricity is generated from RES.
Renewable energy goals
While Uzbekistan’s annual electricity production amounted to 54.2 billion kWh in 1991, it had dropped to 45.4 billion kWh by 1996 because the power units at its largest power plants had become obsolete. Electricity production rose steadily between 1996 and 2018, however, as a result of modernisation and commissioning of new power units.
Uzbekistan’s total electricity generation capacity is 14.1 GW, with TPPs accounting for 85.8%. With GDP and population growth, the country’s electricity demand is bound to increase. Production is therefore forecast to rise to 84.9 billion kWh by 2025 – 40% above the 2018 level. Electricity generation capacity is expected to expand 2.5 times to double annual production by 2030.
Today, many countries’ renewable energy goals include reducing GHG emissions, increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption, and meeting growing demand for energy. Uzbekistan is also developing objectives to promote renewable energy and increase its share in the overall energy balance. It particularly aims to increase the share of renewable energy in total electricity production from 10-12% in 2018 to 20% by 2025, including raising the HPP portion from 10-12% to 15.8%, solar energy from 1.95% to 2.3% and wind energy from 1.36% to 1.6%.
Factors inhibiting renewable energy development
As in other developing countries, a number of factors continue to hinder renewable energy development in Uzbekistan.
- First, the high cost of producing renewable energy and its limited generating capacity compared with traditional energy sources, as well as the low cost of traditional energy sources compared with other countries. The cost of producing electricity from RESs is still high in developing countries, and Uzbekistan leads the group of countries supplying their populations with inexpensive electricity: the average cost of 1 kWh of electricity in Uzbekistan in 2018 was USD 0.024, while in Kazakhstan it was USD 0.035; in Turkmenistan USD 0.07; in Russia USD 0.048; and in China USD 0.13. In comparison, the cost in developed countries was: USD 0.338 in Germany; USD 0.186 in the United Kingdom; USD 0.333 in Denmark; and USD 0.318 in Belgium.
- Second, there are no specific financial support mechanisms (tariffs and taxes) that stimulate RES use. The legal framework for economic mechanisms promoting RES use is inadequate.
- Third, progressive techniques and technologies based on modern control systems are not sufficiently developed. One of the main reasons for the low rate of RES development is the technical imperfection of these types of energy production technologies. Plus, short-term energy system profitability is low.
- Fourth, as in many other developing countries, public awareness of modern forms of energy – especially renewable energy – is lacking.
- Fifth, innovative renewable energy technologies are being developed too rapidly for Uzbekistan to keep up. For example, solar panels made of semiconductor silicon were quickly replaced by photoelectric panels made of amorphous silicon, and then by flexible solar cells. Because there is no local renewable energy technology manufacturing in Uzbekistan, purchase, installation and maintenance costs remain high. Rapid development of the industry requires that outdated technologies be quickly replaced with new ones.
- Sixth, nuclear power influences the scale of renewable energy use and hampers development of the energy sector. Studies show that producing clean energy from RESs is 20 times more expensive than from NPPs. It is estimated that world reserves of coal will last 270 years, oil 50 years and gas 70 years, whereas uranium reserves used in NPPs total 5 718 400 tonnes – enough for 2 500 years. In 12 countries the share of NPPs in electricity production is high, exceeding 30% (75% in France; 54% in the Slovak Republic; 51% in Belgium; and 46% in Ukraine).
Stimulating renewable energy development
An important tool for promoting renewable energy is the green certification system, which clarifies and approves information on the composition and types of fuels used in a country, and provides transparency on the origin of electricity. These certificates are also used for product labelling.
Green certificates are used to encourage RES use, as they are the basis upon which the government provides subsidies, benefits and other types of financial assistance to producers, consumers and suppliers of renewable energy.
Another important economic mechanism for promoting renewable energy is the green tariff, which has been introduced in more than 65 countries around the world to encourage investment in renewable energy technologies.
To counterbalance the elements hindering development of the renewable energy sector in Uzbekistan, the government should introduce a variety of economic incentive mechanisms, including a green certification system, green tariffs, bonus tariffs (feed-in tariffs), grants and subsidies, and tax benefits.
The wide availability of RESs that do not have a negative impact on the environment, and that can reduce emissions of CO2 and other harmful substances as well as mitigate climate change, will inevitably raise interest in the use of renewable energy in Uzbekistan in the near future (https://review.uz/ru/post/vozobnovlyaemaya-energiya-dlya-ustoychivogo-razvitiya).
Experts estimate gross wind energy potential to be 2.2 Mtoe, but this does not take wind potential in local regions (e.g. Bekabad, Ustyurt) into account. The development of wind power in Uzbekistan is very promising for agriculture in remote areas. Additional opportunities for irrigation and enlarged access to a reliable energy supply would considerably improve the quality of life for farmers and residents of remote rural settlements.
Based on the results of recent investigations, a map of the country's wind energy potential has been drawn up: mesoscale modelling shows that Uzbekistan has more significant wind energy resources than previously recognised. The regions with the highest wind potential are a mountainous region northeast of Tashkent, mountain ranges south and east of Samarkand, and a mountain range between the Djizak and Samarkand regions. The Navoi region and the Republic of Karakalpakstan also have high wind-energy potential (www.vsemirnyjbank.org/ru/news).
Geothermal resources are available in almost all regions, as long-term research has revealed eight large hydrothermal resource pools. The gross potential of geothermal water is estimated at 244 200 tonnes of coal equivalent (tce), but the technical potential has not been determined. The greatest geothermal water potential is in the Fergana Valley (Namangan region: 42 600 tce) and the Bukhara region (81 200 tce). The average temperature of Uzbekistan’s geothermal waters is 45.5°C, and the highest thermal potentials for groundwater have been recorded in the Bukhara (56°C) and Syrdarya (50°C) regions. The best opportunities for developing geothermal energy are in the Fergana Valley, but subsoil heat is available for use in a number of other areas.
In the future it will be possible to exploit this heat resource in almost all parts of the country, because in all regions the temperature of rock material at depths of 4 000 m to 6 000 m is in the range of 70°C to 300°C. Despite the quality research that has been done on geothermal reservoirs, thermal water use is still at an early stage. The development of thermal springs is being undertaken through the national energy programme, but to date there is no generating capacity in the country.
Uzbekistan has the potential to use cotton stems, residues from other crop production sectors, industrial and domestic waste, and livestock and reed waste as energy resources for producing heat and electricity (through direct combustion or gasification).
From one hectare of cotton-sown land, it is possible to remove 2‑4 tonnes of cotton stalks. The dried stems of cotton plants have traditionally been used in rural areas as fuel, and their calorific value is akin to that of logging residues. These stems may be processed to be used in briquette form, or they may be thermochemically decomposed to produce biogas. The annual gross energy potential of cotton plant stalks is estimated to be 2.3 Mtoe, and the technical potential (using thermochemical biomass conversion technology) is 0.3 Mtoe.
Reeds, another vegetative resource, grow spontaneously along the banks of canals and water bodies in volumes of 10 Mt to 12 Mt per year.
The resources of logging, however, are insignificant, since only a small part of Uzbekistan (3.2% of the total land area) is forested: the largest area is occupied by saxaul, juniper and barilla plant. All the country’s forests are in the group I classification, and commercial felling in them and some types of non-commercial felling are not permitted.
As a result of the vast amount of land devoted to farming, more than 9 million head of cattle and 15 million sheep and goats generate more than 100 mcm of organic waste per year.
Thorough research is needed to accurately assess the energy potential of biomass, and it should be borne in mind that cotton stalks are traditionally used in rural areas for cooking; waste from cereal and other agricultural crops is used as fodder for livestock and for building material; and livestock and poultry waste is used locally as a fertiliser, or is naturally dried to be used as fuel.
Preliminary studies have shown that the most common direct use of biomass in Uzbekistan is in processing biomass and organic agricultural waste to produce biogas. As fertiliser can also be produced in the biogas production process, obtaining both organic fertiliser (biofertiliser) of high quality and an autonomous energy source at the same time will offset the GHG emissions and environmental damage that come from the systems for collecting organic waste, thereby creating an ecologically closed energy system. The economic effects of using biofertilisers are therefore very similar to those of using biogas, making biofertiliser the second most-important product of biogas technologies.
Furthermore, biogas complexes can be installed in remote rural settlements and on small farms that do not have access to traditional energy sources. It is not possible, however, to organise the industrial production of biogas plants or their individual components (e.g. pipe fittings, metal structures, wires and cables, basic mechanical and rubber products, and control devices) in Uzbekistan.
More than 30 mcm of solid household waste are generated annually in Uzbekistan, and the total accumulation of such wastes in polygons located in settlements is more than 100 mcm. Because a sufficiently acceptable technology for their processing is lacking, they are stored without preliminary processing or separation into fractions and useful components. With the biological decomposition of these household wastes, numerous landfills emit methane, carbon dioxide, etc., into the environment.
In 2019, the Government of Uzbekistan launched a programme for converting to natural gas-fuelled vehicles. Currently, more than 800 000 cars use compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The serial production of cars at Uzbekistan’s GM enterprises and of ISUZU trucks installed with gas-cylinder equipment is highly developed (https://lex.uz/docs/3377221).
Uzbekistan has adopted an Environmental Protection Concept of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030 and a roadmap for its implementation.
The Concept pays particular attention to environmental protection in the energy sector. It points to the unsustainable use of natural resources, including water and land, fuel and energy, and biological resources, without taking further development prospects into account.
Uzbekistan’s main sources of air pollution are metallurgy, energy, construction materials, oil and gas, and mining industries, as well as motor transport.
Anthropogenic activities have led to the accumulation of billions of tonnes of industrial waste, as well as solid domestic waste, which is often placed in substandard landfills, dumps and sludge storage facilities. The most damaging industrial wastes are generated by the mining, oil and gas production, coal and chemical industries.
According to Presidential Decree No. UP - 5863 of 30 October 2019 (https://lex.uz/docs/4574010), a variety of measures should be implemented by 2030 to improve the quality of the natural environment:
- ensure the reduction of air pollutant emissions
- increase the share of RES use in the overall structure of generating capacities
- encourage energy efficiency in buildings, promoting the use of low-carbon technologies (heat pumps, renewable energy) and cleaner fuels in individual households
- in transport, shift to gas-cycle fuel, electric traction and other alternative fuel technologies, and improve road infrastructure
- adopt standards for all types of wheeled vehicles as well as Euro-6 motor fuels
- ensure the development and adoption of specific emissions standards for pollutants produced by electricity and heat generation
- create inventories of pollutant emissions, including by economic sector
- revise state standards for solid fuels to reflect environmental considerations
- ensure that coal mined in Uzbekistan is enriched to increase its calorific value and reduce ash content
- ensure that existing standards are harmonised with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) requirements.
In addition, the government will forbid:
- new ecological-class motor fuel production below the Euro-4 level as of 1 January 2020
- the “temporary import” customs regime and “release for free circulation (import)” of motor fuels below the Euro-3 ecological class as of 1 January 2022, and below Euro‑4 as of 1 January 2023.
Uzbekistan has been a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change since 1993, it signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 1999, and it ratified the Paris Agreement in 2018.
Ongoing global warming trends pose a great risk to human health and economic development, and Uzbekistan is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Ratification of the Paris Agreement imposes certain obligations on the country, such as reducing GHG emissions and attracting additional funds to modernise infrastructure and improve energy efficiency.
Uzbekistan’s greatest GHG emissions (more than 80%) originate in the energy sector, from the combustion of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) and technological methane leaks during the extraction, processing and transportation of natural gas. The share of emissions from fuel combustion has fallen from 71% to 59% in recent years, while at the same time the share of methane leaks from oil and gas complexes and coal production has risen. The increase in emissions associated with methane leaks is mainly due to higher volumes of gas processing (including transit gas).
Uzbekistan is implementing Green Economy principles, which provide for:
- The development of economic measures and levers, including the introduction of fees to reduce GHG emissions, a system of incentives for energy-saving, including through the application of financial benefits, and energy management and auditing of energy-intensive enterprises.
- Reconstruction and modernisation of the generating capacities of existing power plants with the introduction of highly efficient technologies based on steam-gas and gas turbine units.
- The complete equipping of power consumption systems with automatic control and metering devices.
- The introduction of new thermal energy generation technologies, including co‑generation in central boiler houses and coal-fired steam-turbine power units operating on ultra-supercritical steam parameters, and modernisation and reconstruction of outdated boiler-house equipment.
- Implementation of the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources and the Law on the Rational Use of Energy.
- The reduction of natural gas losses during natural gas production, processing, transportation and distribution through the modernisation of compressor stations, low- and medium-pressure gas distribution networks, and the gas transportation system with the introduction of a SCADA system.
- The improvement of approaches to architectural and planning solutions in the construction and reconstruction of buildings, taking energy efficiency improvements into account; the creation of an energy certification system for buildings; and the revision of existing norms and standards (and the adoption of new ones) for thermal-insulating building materials.
An important condition for Uzbekistan’s dynamic development is the accelerated introduction of modern, innovative technologies in the economic, social and other domains with the widespread use of scientific and technological advances.
Research and development (R&D) in Uzbekistan covers three main groups of activities: fundamental research; applied research; and technological development.
In 2018, Uzbekistan’s R&D expenditures amounted to 0.1% of GDP (https://knoema.ru/atlas). R&D financing in Uzbekistan is much lower than in developed countries, interactions between scientific institutions and the economic sectors and the social sphere are low, and the activities of ministries and agencies, as well as local authorities in the field of innovative development, are poorly co‑ordinated.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Global Innovation Index (GII) for 2019 indicates innovation levels for 129 countries. While the index provides rankings for Kazakhstan (79th), Kyrgyzstan (90th) and Tajikistan (100th), Uzbekistan has not yet been included (https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii-2019-report).
In accordance with Presidential Decree No. UP-5544 of 21 September 2018, the Strategy for Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2019-2021 and the roadmap for its implementation were adopted. The strategy provides for an increase in public spending on R&D, bringing this figure to 0.8% of GDP by 2021. The Global Innovation Index anticipates that Uzbekistan will join the ranks of the 50 advanced countries of the world by 2030.
The government intends to strengthen the country’s scientific potential and the effectiveness of scientific R&D by creating effective mechanisms to integrate education, science and entrepreneurship for the widespread introduction of research results, experimental design and technological work (https://lex.uz/ru/docs/3913186?ONDATE=22.09.2018%2000).
Scientific institutions engaged in R&D work
Today Uzbekistan is an important scientific centre in Central Asia with a well-developed research base and qualified scientific personnel. Its scientific potential is founded on the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Results of the Academy of Sciences’ applied research and innovation in the field of energy include:
- Import-substituting ceramic filter cartridges, pontoons, and membranes for fine purification of oil and gas products, introduced at the enterprises of Uzbekneftegaz JSC and Uztransgaz JSC within the national programme of localisation.
- Technology for producing aviation fuel based on local raw hydrocarbon materials for the Boeing A-1 jet, Airbus and RG gas-turbine aircraft engines.
- Development of the theory, principles and automated control systems of electricity networks and their relevant equipment, and of the problems of RES use.
Uzbekneftegaz has several divisions engaged in R&D:
- Uzbek Research and Design Institute of the Oil and Gas Industry (the UzLITIneftegas JSC) provides comprehensive scientific and design support for developing and improving hydrocarbon fields and the construction of oil and gas facilities.
- The Institute of Geology and Exploration of Oil and Gas Fields (IGIRNIGM JSC) is the largest research centre in Uzbekistan for oil and gas geology, drilling and gas condensate research. The main research goal in the field of oil and gas geology remains active assistance in discovering new oil and gas fields and increasing the country’s hydrocarbon base.
- The I.M. Gubkin Branch of Russian State University of Oil and Gas (National Research University) in Tashkent specialises in formation of the national innovation system and the basis of innovative economy; the development of sustainable growth strategies and mechanisms of innovative oil and gas complex development; and the formulation of risk management strategies in oil and gas companies and others.
- Professional oil and gas industry colleges.
- Personnel training for the oil and gas industry.
- The Bukhara Vocational College of Oil and Gas.
- The Fergana Vocational College of Oil and Gas.
- The Uzbek Oil and Gas Magazine is published quarterly and is the only sectoral publication in Uzbekistan.
JSC Uzbekenergo has the following scientific departments:
- The Scientific and Technical Centre of JSC Uzbekenergo aims to raise the level of scientific and technological development and introduce modern, highly efficient technologies into the electric power industry, ensure the implementation of strategic modernisation programmes and the technical and technological re-equipment of electric power enterprises, and create modern research and laboratory facilities.
- The International Institute of Solar Energy introduces high-tech developments into the industrial use of solar energy and prepares proposals for the practical use of solar energy in various sectors of the economy and the social sphere.
- The international magazine Heliotekhnika covers all the main areas of R&D on solar energy use: the direct conversion of solar energy into electrical energy; solar installations and their application; solar energy concentrators; solar power plants; solar engineering materials science; solar heat/cold supply; storage; solar radiation; and RESs (http://geliotekhnika.uz/ru/page/2).