Context of renewable energy in Uzbekistan
Energy supply Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest natural gas producers. Its energy production amounted to 54.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2019. Energy production reached a record high of 56.7 Mtoe in 2008. This amount had decreased by 20% by 2015, mainly due to the global economic crisis and a decline in natural gas reserves. It then recovered by 22% by 2019 from the 2015 level thanks to the development of gas projects in Uzbekistan. Natural gas is the dominant energy source in Uzbekistan, accounting for 90.5% of total energy production (49.3 Mtoe in 2019), while other energy sources include oil (5.8% in the same year), coal (2.6%), hydro (1.0%) and a negligible amount of biofuels (Figure 1).
Policy landscape for renewables in Uzbekistan To ensure energy security and promote renewable energy use, the government of Uzbekistan has adopted a wide range of strategies and laws related to energy. The Strategy of Action for the Five Priority Development Areas of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, adopted in February 2017, provides key directions for economic development. In terms of energy, the strategy indicates the need for reducing the energy intensity and resource intensity of the economy, the widespread introduction of energy-saving technologies in production, and expanding the use of renewable energy sources. The government expects the share of renewable generation in the power mix to increase to at least 20% by 2025 (compared to 9.4% in 2018), as indicated in the Strategy for Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2019- 2021, adopted in September 2018. Building reliable electricity networks is essential for the deployment of more renewables in the power sector. In this regard, the Strategy for the Development of Electric Networks in the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2025 was formulated in July 2019 It provides an overall plan for the construction of new and the modernisation of existing transmission and distribution lines and substations up to 2025
The National Dispatch Centre under NEGU is in charge of dispatching all power plants in accordance with the Rules for the Production, Transmission and Distribution of Electrical Energy approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Both NEGU and territorial JSCs under the Regional Electric Power Networks JSC are responsible for electricity transmission and distribution, respectively. The TPPs and some HPPs with reservoirs provide flexibility to the power system, and are dispatched depending on electricity demand. Business entities such as independent power producers are guaranteed connection to the energy system, including electricity and thermal, and contract with NEGU to supply energy produced from renewable energy sources; the cost of connecting to the energy system, including grid enhancement, is mainly borne by the entities. The technical procedure of the grid connection, including non-discriminatory access to the system for the business entities, is defined by the Regulation for Connecting Businesses that Produce Electricity, Including from Renewable Energy Sources, to the Unified Electric Power System, approved in July 2019.
Solar PV-to-heat (PV2heat) for domestic hot water PV2heat systems are becoming increasingly popular in several regions of the world, especially for domestic hot water. These systems consist of PV modules directly and solely connected to an electrical element that heats the water with DC power, without the need for inverters. Some systems also usually include an AC element connected to the electricity grid to heat the water when the sun is not shining (IEA SHC TCP, 2021a). PV2heat systems benefit from a simple installation, only requiring wiring from the panels to the water tank instead of insulated pipes, as is the case with traditional solar water heaters. They can also be integrated into existing water tanks. In comparison with traditional solar thermal, PV2heat systems can be particularly relevant in areas with lower insolation and colder temperatures. One downside of the simplicity of this installation is that it is also at higher risk of theft in some areas.
Conclusion Uzbekistan has abundant renewable energy potential, most of which lies in solar energy thanks to high solar irradiation. However, until now energy supply has been dominated by fossil fuels, with renewable energy – almost exclusively hydropower – accounting for only 1% of its total energy production in 2019. To satisfy growing energy demand while promoting renewable energy use, the government of Uzbekistan has adopted a wide range of energy strategies and laws and has been undertaking energy sector reform to increase solar energy use and make it a key energy source by 2030. These efforts could be complemented by: further exploring the potential of solar energy applications; establishing policy and regulatory frameworks to enable greater deployment of solar energy facilities; and increasing power system flexibility to address the variability of VRE generation. These aspects include phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while protecting economically vulnerable consumers, implementing tariff reform, and investing in upgrading and improving the capacity and reliability of the power transmission system. All of this would allow Uzbekistan to better integrate increasing amounts of solar energy through 2030.
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