The first of six units at the 3600MW Rogun hydroelctric project in Tajikistan was officially inaugurated in a ceremony today by the country’s president Emomali Rahmon.

President Rahmon watched as the rotor of Unit 6 came to life in the dam’s powerhouse in the presence of government officials and foreign dignitaries, including World Bank Vice President, Europe and Central Asia Cyril Muller, Italian Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Manlio Di Stefano and Salini Impregilo Chief Executive Pietro Salini.

Unit 6 is the first of six turbines being installed at the dam. A second turbine is expected to start producing electricity by 2019. The early start of the turbines – prior to the dam being completed – will allow Tajikistan to cope with internal demand for electricity, especially during the winter months when thousands of families are in need light and heat. It will also be able to raise money from the sale of part of the electricity produced to neighbouring countries.

Commissioned by OJSC “Rogun Hydropower Project”, the state-run company that is coordinating the project, the rockfill dam with a loam core is being built by of Salini Impregilo to become the tallest dam in the world at 335m. Salini Impregilo is responsible for the main civil works and related services. With the dam crest at an elevation of 1300m above the sea level, Rogun will also become the world's highest dam, breaking the record held by the Nurek Dam, also in Tajikistan.

Located in the upper reaches of the Vakhsh River in the Pamir Mountains, Rogun is about 90km from Dushanbe, the capital.

Work on the dam has already seen the diversion of the river with the erection of a cofferdam, channelling its waters through two diversion tunnels.