Perizat RISBEK KIZI
The electric power is the basic industry that ensures the economic well-being of any country. Electricity provides an opportunity for the effective development of real sectors of the economy, a comfortable life for citizens, and creates conditions for the continuous functioning of the most important social spheres. Turkmenistan, which is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of energy resources, plays a key role in the development and production of electricity. The power generating capacities created in the country make it possible not only to reliably and uninterruptedly supply domestic consumers with electricity, but also to steadily increase its export to neighboring countries.
Modernization and increase of electricity production
In Turkmenistan, the capacities of the entire energy complex are constantly increasing in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for electricity due to the growth of industry, construction, and public utilities. Thus, according to the data since the beginning of 2022, the growth rate of electricity production amounted to 116.8 percent, and its export – 150.3 percent.
The electric power potential of the state has expanded significantly since the commissioning of the large power plant Maryskaya hydroelectric power plant in 2018. The station aims to produce about 50% of the state’s electricity. Along with this, thanks to the successful implementation of the “Concept for the development of the electric power industry of Turkmenistan for 2013-2020”, two or three power plants are currently operating in each velayat, which creates ample opportunities for ensuring the energy security of the regions and increasing production capacities. The program of socio-economic development of Turkmenistan for 2019-2025 provides for the construction of 7 more large energy facilities.
Moreover, the country is undergoing a large-scale modernization of electricity production. At the beginning of this year, Ashgabat presented plans to transfer three power plants to a combined cycle (simultaneous production of electrical and thermal energy) of production. By gradually transferring its power plants to the combined cycle, Turkmenistan can simultaneously achieve two major economic goals.
- Firstly, it is ensuring the principles of environmentally friendly production by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), as well as less heat emissions into the atmosphere.
- Secondly, the volume of electricity generation will increase, which creates additional volumes for export.
Access and price of electricity within the country
According to the World Bank, the access of the population of Turkmenistan to electricity is 100%. It is worth noting that until January 1, 2019, Turkmenistan was the only country in the world whose citizens used electricity for free. At the moment, the population of this country pays 2.5 manats (0.7 cents) for each kilowatt, which is one of the lowest prices in the world.
In addition to reliable and uninterrupted supply of domestic consumers at consistently low prices, electricity generated in Turkmenistan has a sufficiently large potential to ensure supplies to third countries through Uzbekistan and Iran. Today, Turkmen electricity is exported to Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, as well as to the Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan’s data notes that electricity imports from Turkmenistan compensated 64% of the country’s electricity shortages in 2021.
Increasing the volume of exported electricity is one of the priorities of the foreign policy of Turkmenistan. For example, the topic of electricity was discussed during President Serdar Berdimuzamedov’s recent visit to Iran. The administration of Ashgabat proposed to begin the transmission of Turkmen electricity through the energy system of Iran to third countries.
In fact, the strategic position of Turkmenistan allows the country to become the center of electricity trade between the regions. This is especially true given the common borders with Afghanistan and İran, which opens access through it to other South Asian countries with rapidly growing demand for electricity. According to experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the deficit of electricity, for example, in Pakistan is 6000 MW, in Afghanistan an additional 3500 MW power will be required by 2032.
It is worth noting that a new stage in energy cooperation with Afghanistan and the countries of South Asia opens the project of a large-scale energy bridge Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP), which will contribute to strengthening peace and stability in the region and give a powerful impetus to its economic development. A lot of work has already been done in the implementation of this project. At the beginning of 2021, a power transmission line was put into operation in the direction of Kerki-Shibargan, with a length of 153 kilometers and a voltage of 500 kW.
As a result, the above initiatives of Ashgabat are designed to increase the volume of export deliveries, significantly improve the reliability of the energy system, give a new impetus to the development of the electric power industry as a basic sector of the national economy and ensure the further socio-economic development of Turkmenistan.