Power Machines supplied the 6.36m diameter runner for the first 167.5MW unit shortly after the middle of last year, and start-up was set for December 2007. The firm is supplying turbines and generators under a contract valued at approximately US$100M. The unit has now entered full commercial operation – which is still three months ahead of the initial programme.

While it will have four main units, giving an installed capacity of 670MW, the plant will also have a fifth unit to take advantage of period of high water level, a spokesman for Russian federal energy holding group RAO UES told IWP&DC. The group is involved as Russia has been helping the Tajik government to complete the delayed scheme.

Other companies involved in the project include hydromechanical and crane equipment manufacturer Hydrostal, construction contractors OAO ChirkeyGESstroy, OAO Zagranenergostroymontazh and OAO Trust Hidromontazh and the bank OAO Zarubezhvodstroy..

Construction of the Sangtuda-1 began in the 1980s during the Soviet era as one of two final plants planned for a cascade on the river Vakhsh, the other major project being Rogun. The project stalled with the end of the Soviet Union and then suffered more delay due to funding difficulties and conflict with Tajikistan.

In 1996, a joint stock company was set up to take over the partly built assets but there were ongoing funding problems. Then, in 2004, a meeting of the leaders of Russia and Tajikistan led to an agreement to complete the scheme and the following year a Russian-Tajik JV was established for the purpose with shares available for purchase and funds to finish the scheme coming in part from Russia.

The project is being completed ahead of schedule on the request of the Government of Tajikistan due to power shortages. Sangtuda-1 is to produce 2,700GWh of electricity each year, which will be used for domestic consumption and the plan has been also for exports to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and parts of Russia. The total project cost to finish the scheme will be around US$500M, with Russia providing about of half the sum.