The Uch-Kurgan hydropower plant – the oldest of the six plants installed along the Naryn River cascade in the Kyrgyz Republic – is set to benefit from a $100 million financing package approved by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The funds will be used to modernize the plant’s aging equipment and improve power generation capacity. The assistance comes in the form of a $60 million loan and a $40 million grant from the Asian Development Fund, with the ADB also administering a $45 million loan from the Eurasian Development Bank for the project.
“The modernization of the Uch-Kurgan hydropower plant supports the government’s strategy to rehabilitate existing power plants to increase clean energy production,” said ADB Principal Energy Specialist Mr. Sohail Hasnie. “The Kyrgyz Republic has the potential to generate about 150 terrawatt-hour of clean electricity per year, but it’s producing only about 10% of that amount at the moment. We expect the Uch-Kurgan to produce 20% more power when the work is completed.”
The Kyrgyz Republic is a clean energy hub in Central Asia, supplying 90% of the region’s hydropower. In 1995, the Kyrgyz Republic exported more than 2000GWh to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which have since declined to less than half that. As more energy becomes available, Kyrgyz power exports are expected to grow. The export of hydropower and corresponding dollar-denominated export revenues will improve the energy sector’s financial situation and offset similar payments for the import of power from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan during winter months.
Uch-Kurgan began operating in 1962 and was used as a baseload plant. Since then, no major improvement works have been undertaken. Replacing and modernizing aging equipment will not only increase power generation at Uch-Kurgan, but also maintain the integrity of the power system in the Naryn River cascade. The Naryn River cascade is the powerhouse of the Kyrgyz Republic with it’s six hydropower plants producing 92% of the country’s hydropower supply.
The modernization project will restore full operation of all four generating units of Uch-Kurgan with increased total capacity of 216 MW, from the original capacity of 180MW. It will also finance the reinforcement of the plant’s hydraulic steel structure and dam infrastructure, while making all eight bottom outlet gates operational. Removal of undertake silt and sedimentation will also be carried out to help restore proper operation of the plant’s hydromechanical equipment.
ADB’s assistance will also support capacity building of Electric Power Plants (EPP), the project’s executing agency, particularly in its commitment to operational sustainability and diversity by establishing the EPP’s engineer’s accreditation program and through the recruitment of 10 women engineers in the next two years.