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2020 †N5-6(182-183)
The 13th International Exhibition and Scientific Conference "Major areas of development of the power industry of Turkmenistan" - "Turkmen Energy 2020" will be held in Ashgabat in September 2020. This annual industry forum has become a popular platform for big Turkmen and foreign companies to conduct business meetings and discuss relevant areas of cooperation and prospects for development of the national power industry and establishment of mutually beneficial international partnerships.
The agenda of the upcoming conference features a wide range of topics of mutual interest for the Turkmen power engineers and international businesses. In particular, the conference is expected to discuss issues relating to international cooperation and investments in the power industry of Turkmenistan, role of Turkmenistan in electricity supply to the countries of Central Asia and the Middle East, construction and modernization of the country's power generating and distribution facilities, energy saving and efficiency in the power industry, implementation and prospects for development of alternative energy in Turkmenistan.
It is noteworthy that these aspects set the tone for development of the power industry of Turkmenistan. Pursuing an "open door" policy, the country has been consistently developing mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign companies, as well as increasing exports of various products to the international markets, thereby fulfilling the great growth potential of the national economy, in which power engineering is one of the key industries.
Production of electricity in Turkmenistan grows year after year. There has been built and functioning a modern high-capacity electricity transmission network that is quite flexible in terms of transmission. Export opportunities for the gas industry open up steadily.
Other than strengthening the material and technical base of the power industry, introducing new technologies and training specialists capable of operating modern power engineering equipment as part of the state reform, major financial investments are being made in this area. Much attention is paid to expanding cooperation with foreign partners to implement large-scale projects of international importance in this area.
The International Exhibition and Scientific Conference "Main trends in development of the power industry of Turkmenistan", held in Ashgabat in September 2019, demonstrated the great potential of the power industry of Turkmenistan and the growing interest of foreign investors in participating in joint projects. The forum brought together representatives of the leading companies and specialized structures from Russia, the USA, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Turkey, Iran, Belarus, Ukraine and other countries. The exhibition featured about 130 representatives of international electricity companies, national power industry organizations and private business, experts.
At the industry conference, special attention was paid to the implementation of large investment projects for construction of domestic and international power transmission lines, advanced technologies, as well as development of alternative energy and creation of innovative "smart" energy networks.
The dynamic development of the power industry of Turkmenistan is evidenced by a number of ongoing large-scale projects, including construction of gas turbine power plants in Ashgabat, Akhal, Balkan, Lebap and Dashoguz provinces.
Dozens of power distribution substations have been built across the country in recent years, the energy supply and lighting system of Ashgabat and other cities and towns is being upgraded. This large-scale work makes it possible not only to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to large industrial complexes and social facilities that are built in the country annually but also export it to neighboring countries.
Turkmenistan's first combined-cycle power plant was commissioned in September 2018 with the participation of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. It operates in a coordinated manner with the Mary Hydroelectric Power Plant. The head of state said the commissioning of this large power engineering facility was a historically significant event in the life of the country, as this modern power plant should play an important role in increasing the export potential of Turkmenistan.
The total capacity of the combined-cycle power plant is 1574 megawatts. The combination of 4 gas and 2 steam turbines manufactured by the US General Electric ensures the output of extra electricity. In addition, consumption of natural gas as fuel has been reduced significantly, and the volume of harmful emissions into the atmosphere has been reduced by a factor of 2-3. At the same time, the combined-cycle power plant has a higher efficiency (57 percent) compared to simple-cycle power plants with the efficiency index of 34.2 percent.
This project aims to ensuring reliable and uninterrupted supply of electricity to domestic consumers and increasing exports of electricity to foreign countries by 3 billion kW/h. Following the commissioning of the new power plant, the capacity of the Mary Hydroelectric Power Plant has more than doubled.
Under the Concept of Development of the Power Industry of Turkmenistan for 2013-2020, projects on construction of 14 gas-turbine power plants with the total capacity of 3854 MW have been implemented in the regions of the country. These projects worth USD 5 billion have been implemented with the view of increasing electricity production in Turkmenistan to 26.4 billion kW/h and increasing exports of electricity in excess of 6 billion kW/h by 2020.
Another gas turbine power plant with the capacity of 432 MW is being built in Lebap province. The "turnkey" project is being implemented by Japanese companies Sumitomo Corporation and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems jointly with Turkish Rnesans Holding under a contract with the State Electric Power Corporation "Turkmenenergo". Three gas turbine units with the capacity of 144 MW each, supplied by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, will be installed at the plant. The project is financed by the State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of Turkmenistan under a loan agreement with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation totaling 13 billion Japanese yen and USD 152 million.
Commissioning of seven more power engineering facilities are expected within a seven-year period according to the Programme of Socio-Economic Development of Turkmenistan for 2019-2025. It is important that in the near future the repair and maintenance services for power engineering equipment will be provided domestically. To this end, a consortium of companies alik Enerji Sanayi ve Ticaret A.. (Turkey) and alik Enerji Swiss AG (Switzerland) will build a specialized service center for repair of gas turbines, as well as electric generators, transformer substations, electrical panels and other equipment. The service center will be built in the territory of the Busmeyn Power Station on the orders of the State Corporation "Turkmenenergo".
Creation of new ring energy system Akhal - Balkan and Balkan - Dashoguz is currently under way with the view of increasing stable supply of electricity to large industrial complexes and numerous new social facilities in Turkmenistan. In addition, this system will also help increase electricity exports to neighboring countries.
In January 2020, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov issued a resolution instructing the State Electric Power Corporation "Turkmenenergo" to conclude contracts with foreign companies on the purchase of equipment, materials and vehicles for construction of high-voltage transmission lines and the Akhal - Balkan and Balkan - Dashoguz stations, as well as a contract with Turkish company alik Enerji Sanayi ve Ticaret A.. on the design, supply, installation and commissioning of telemechanics systems, communications and SCADA systems for these power transmission lines.
The project on construction of high-voltage transmission lines Akhal - Balkan and Balkan - Dashoguz is financed through a soft loan from the Asian Development Bank. The project provides for construction of 560 kilometers of 500 kV overhead power transmission lines and 475 kilometers of 220 kV power transmission lines. Two substations with voltage of 500/220/110 kV and another two with voltage of 220/110 kV will also be commissioned as part of the project.
The modern power system of Turkmenistan is connected to the unified power system of Central Asia. It is capable of exporting large volumes of electricity to Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Tajikistan and other countries of the region.
The Programme of the President of Turkmenistan on the Socio-Economic Development of the Country for 2019-2025 provides for an active investment policy. In accordance with this policy, Turkmenistan is expected to produce up to 33 billion kW/h of electricity by 2024, thus exceeding the electricity output of 2018-2019. Electricity exports will increase several times.
Setting the priorities for the national economy in 2020, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasized that Turkmenistan attaches special importance to the energy sector. The industry faces big challenges, including the further development of the power industry and transition to the digital system, construction of new power plants and modernization of existing ones, completing electrification and increasing exports of electricity to neighboring countries.
Stressing that the power industry plays a leading role in the country's economy, the President noted the importance of constantly increasing investments in this important industry. Capacity-building of the industry will contribute to the further growth of exports of Turkmen electricity.
According to the head of state, Turkmenistan should prioritize the work on implementing the international project on construction of the power transmission line Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan to increase electricity exports.
A special Office for International Electric Power Projects along Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan (TAP) route was established at the Ministry of Energy of Turkmenistan on 23 January 2020 to accelerate this project. The Ministry of Power Engineering of Turkmenistan signed an agreement with TAPP-500 Power Transmission Line FZE (a subsidiary of Calik Holding AS (Turkey) on cooperation in implementing the Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan (TAP) transmission line project. According to the document, construction work should start in February 2020 and the power transmission line should be commissioned in August 2021. At the first stage of the project, a 220 kV power transmission line will be extended to the Turkmen-Afghan border along the Mary Hydroelectric Plant - the city of Herat (Afghanistan) route.
At the same time, other countries in the region experience a shortage of electricity. That is why Pakistan joined the project on electricity supplies from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan in 2018. On February 1 this year, construction of the first stage of the Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan transmission line started in Mary province. In the future, this power transmission line will continue from Herat to Kandahar, the second most populated city in Afghanistan, and further to Quetta - one of the largest cities of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the sides are currently working on another route for construction of the second power transmission line from the Turkmen city of Kerki to the Afghan cities of Andkhoy, Puli-Khumri and Kabul and further to Pakistani Peshawar. Thus, two high-capacity 500 kV power transmission lines, crossing the territory of Afghanistan from different sides, will ensure exports of Turkmen electricity to the north and west of Pakistan.
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed the intergovernmental agreement on the TAP power transmission lines on 23 February 2018 during the launch of construction of the Afghan section of the TAPI gas pipeline, the TAP fiber-optic communication line, as well as the commissioning of the new Serkhetabat - Turgundi railway. At the same time, a symbolic start was given to construction of the TAP power transmission line.
In October 2018, the Ministry of Power Engineering of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Power Engineering and Water Resources of Afghanistan signed an agreement on the TAP power transmission line project that defines the volume of electricity to be supplied to Afghanistan, i.e. 300 MW to Herat and Kandahar (total 600 MW) with the potential of the further increase to 1000 MW. It is expected that construction of this power transmission line, stretching for 750 km in Afghanistan - from Turgundi in Herat to Spin-Boldak in Kandahar, will be completed within three years.
In recent years, Afghanistan has received electricity from Turkmenistan at preferential prices through the power transmission lines Imamnazar - Andkhoy and Serkhetabat - Herat. In the summer of 2018, the 100 MW power transmission line Rabatkashan - Kalainau was commissioned, opening another route for supply of Turkmen electricity to the northern regions of the neighboring state.
According to experts from the Asian Development Bank, Pakistan is currently experiencing a shortage of electricity in the amount of 6000 MW, and Afghanistan will need additional 3500 MW by 2032. According to foreign experts, if the TAP project is successful in Pakistan, then there will appear prerequisites for extending energy supplies to India.
Work is under way in Turkmenistan on increasing electricity exports to Afghanistan. Export opportunities to Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and the countries of the Caucasus are being considered.
For example, this May, Kyrgyzstan began negotiating a contract on purchasing electricity from other countries of Central Asia, including Turkmenistan. In December 2019, the National Electric Networks of Uzbekistan agreed with the State Electric Power Corporation of Turkmenistan "Turkmenenergo" to import electricity in 2019-2020.
In the future, the Central Asian countries plan to work out a common strategy on development of power generating capacities within the framework of a single energy network that will include Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
In November 2018, the Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved allocation of the USD 500 million worth loan to Turkmenistan for modernization of the electricity network and increasing electricity exports to neighboring countries.
The project on development of the power industry of Turkmenistan covers four of the five regions of the country and aims to establish an energy-efficient interconnected electricity transmission network. In particular, construction of new transmission lines (110 kV, 220 kV and 500 kV) with the total length of 1100 kilometers and modernization of three existing substations will be financed using the ADB loans.
Plans on major improvement of reliability of the state electric grid will be implemented in full by 2023. They will help to significantly strengthen Turkmenistan's capacity to sell electricity to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and increase exports to Afghanistan.
Latest technologies for production of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind generators, are being introduced in Turkmenistan. Pilot projects in this area are implemented by the Scientific and Production Center for Renewable Energy Sources of the State Energy Institute of the city of Mary.
One of them is a solar-wind power station with the total capacity of 10 MW, which will be built as part of development of the area around the Altyn Asyr artificial lake in 2019-2025. It is intended to ensure reliable power supply to numerous facilities that are being built in the vicinity of the lake: a fishing farm, a modern village with two-story cottages, a medical center, a kindergarten, a school, a household, a shopping center.
Uninterrupted supply of electricity to the entire infrastructure will be provided by energy-saving solar panels and wind power plants, which will be installed in addition to the power transmission lines. This will make it possible to generate 12.8 million kWh of electricity per year, which is sufficient to meet the village needs in electricity.
Another project provides for construction of a 50 MW solar power plant next to the existing gas turbine power plant. This will make it possible to use a solar plant during the day and a gas turbine power plant at night. This measure helps to ensure gas savings, reduce harmful emissions of carbon dioxide and aging of equipment.
Implementation of such projects demonstrates the country's commitment to introducing innovative "green" technologies with high rates of resource saving and environmental safety.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005