Tajikistan is an intriguing country for hydropower activity. With an installed capacity of 5,190 MW, and an estimated hydropower potential of 527 billion kWh per year, there is significant scope for project activity in the coming years.
Hydropower supplies nearly 100 per cent of Tajikistan’s electricity, which is used for both domestic supply and export. Recent projects in Tajikistan include full commissioning of Sangtuda 1 (670 MW) in 2009, Sangtuda 2 in 2011 (220 MW), and the planned rehabilitation of the Kairakkum project, which is expected to begin in 2015.
Tajikistan’s largest hydropower station is Nurek, with an installed capacity of 3,000 MW. However, the government is seeking finance for the proposed Rogun project, which, if completed, would become Tajikistan’s largest hydropower project at 3,600 MW, and would turn Tajikistan into a net exporter of electricity. Rogun would also be the world’s tallest dam, at 335 meters.
In 2014, the World Bank completed a feasibility study on Rogun, indicating the project is moving forward. However, financing is still far short of what is needed to break ground, and additional hurdles include regional relations with downstream Uzbekistan, which has expressed opposition to the project.
Tajikistan’s hydropower resource experiences highly seasonal variations, leading to excess summer supply and significant shortages during the winter months. This imbalance has set the stage for electricity trade with neighbouring countries.
While current exports of excess summer capacity to Afghanistan are conducted on a bilateral basis, the proposed CASA-1000 regional interconnection would link Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s hydropower into a regional grid including Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
If realised, the proposed project could spur additional development, moving key projects from the planning stage into construction. Rogun can make a significant contribution, although the project could potentially proceed for bilateral export in the absence of CASA-1000.
Beyond the new capacity in the planning stages, there is significant scope for rehabilitation and modernisation in Tajikistan. Around three-quarters of the country’s installed capacity is over 30 years old, and is thus affecting output from the country’s existing hydropower facilities.
Due to obsolescent assets and a lack of investment, estimates indicate that the effective capacity in Tajikistan is closer to 2,306 MW (compared to an installed capacity of 5,190 MW).
Most significantly, the Nurek project, which was commissioned in 1979 and produces over 70 per cent of Tajikistan’s power, is in desperate need of rehabilitation. In 2014, the Asian Development Bank funded the reconstruction of Nurek’s switchyard, and the World Bank issued a contract for the techno-economic assessment study for Nurek’s rehabilitation.
In addition, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is providing concessionary financing for the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Kairakkum hydropower project, which will increase its capacity from 126 to 142 MW.
The rehabilitation is focusing on incorporating climate resilience into the project’s design and operation, enabling it to also access funding from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), marking the first use of the CIF for hydropower.
Tajikistan’s hydropower potential is ranked eighth in the world, three times higher than the current electricity consumption throughout central Asia. The effective use of these resources will allow the region to be provided with inexpensive and green power.
This country profile was last updated in August 2015. You can find all our latest country profiles and regional overviews in the 2016 Hydropower Status Report, which you can download here.