By Marina Romanova
The largest ever stand-alone mobile solar power plant with capacity of 1.2 MW entered into commercial operation near the Bukhara city of Uzbekistan. The new solar power plant, launched by international oilfield service group ERIELL in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates’s ENESOL, has no analogues in the Central Asia and former Soviet Union so far.
The solar plant provides energy to facilities and infrastructure in Kandym field, developed by the Russian PJSC “LUKOIL”, one of the world’s leader of exploration and production of the petroleum products (accounts to 16.4 percent of all Russian crude oil production and 15.7 percent of Russian crude oil refining).
Use of the most advanced solutions and technologies for solar energy generation allowed to bring the total plant capacity to 5.000 kW during daylight hours and to 1.000 kW at night. “The plant’s capacity is enough to provide uninterrupted energy for a populated area of 1,500 people,” the ENESOL said in its statement. Company develops and implements projects in “green energy” for domestic and industrial needs in remote places, mountainous and desert areas.
The cost of the project was not revealed. However, the solar project was initially planned to be financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Reconstruction and Development Fund and a company itself.
Mobile solar power is a complete solution for large-scale electricity production. The use of containers with cellular equipment, installation of screw piles simplify transportation, installation, maintenance and subsequent dismantling of the power plant, as well as eliminate the need for concrete works. So the power plant if needed can be easily transported to another location.
The first solar power project in the country was commissioned in December 2014. The 130 kW solar photovoltaic power project was set up in the Namangan province. The project was implemented through cooperation with South Korean companies.
Solar power is currently mainly generated to serve industrial needs and not for household use. That is particularly regrettable, eurasianet.com speculates, since many citizens continue to experience chronic power shortages. The Ferghana Valley suffers particularly acute shortfalls.
Though the new solar plant is the largest ever mobile plant in the region, expert called it rather modest achievement in renewable energy development in Uzbekistan, which has enormous unexploited potential to harness environmentally friendly resources. By some estimates, renewables account for only 1 percent of Uzbekistan’s energy needs.
Asian Development Bank calculations show annual electricity consumption in Uzbekistan potentially rising to between 105 and 130 terawatt hours by 2030, up from the current level of around 58 terawatt hours. The bank also estimates that the country’s entire total installed production capacity at the moment is around 12.6 gigawatts. Of that, 89 percent is account for by fossil fuels, while another 11 percent is produced from hydropower.
“If appropriate actions are taken, in 2030, it would be feasible to supply 6 percent of total electricity produced in Uzbekistan using solar technologies, less than 0.1 percent of its territory (88 square kilometers) would be needed,” the ADB said in an its 2014 report.
The gross potential of solar radiation in the Republic of Uzbekistan is estimated to be in the range from 525 billion kWh up to 760 billion kWh, according to Ministry of Economy of Uzbekistan. The number of sunny days is more 300 days and the potential of solar energy in the country is about 51 million tons of oil equivalent annually.
Uzbekistan is also rich in other renewable energy resources including wind energy. Wind energy potential is estimated at around 520 GW, enough to meet a quarter of the country’s energy needs.
The country has set a target to generate 21 percent of all its energy from renewable energy sources by 2031. This includes having an installed solar power capacity of 2 GW in the near to medium-term.
Domestic experts emphasize the vital importance for Uzbekistan to increase energy production from renewable energy sources as it is almost completely dependent on oil and gas imported from Russia
Earlier in October 2013 International Solar Energy Institute was established to assist research and development works in solar energy sector.
The first development in the field of solar energy in Uzbekistan began nearly 80 years ago, when a laboratory of solar engineering was created in Samarkand in 1932 followed by the establishment of the research institute “Physics – Sun” in 1943. As the result of the intensive study the one of only two solar furnace in the world (another one is located in France) was built 45 kilometers away from Tashkent city in the year of 1981.