Tajikistan may join the Unified Energy System of Central Asia by the end of May, as announced by minister of energy of Uzbekistan Jurabek Mirzamahmudov during Uzbekistan Energy Week (UEW 2024) in Tashkent on 14 May, Gazeta.uz correspondent reports.

“We are developing interregional trade and interregional cooperation. We already cooperate very closely on supply, export, import and transit of electricity with our neighbors — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan. This month we expect Tajikistan to also join our unified energy system of Central Asia,” he shared.

In late 2021, Tajikistan began talks about rejoining the Unified Energy System of Central Asia. Minister of industry and new technologies Sherali Kabir said Tajikistan would return to the unified energy system by 2022, but the plan has faced several delays since then.

“We still plan to prepare the northern part [of Tajikistan’s energy system] for connection by the end of this year, but the line will be directly launched in April 2024,” Tajikistan minister of energy and water resources Daler Juma.

About UES

The Unified Energy System (UES) of Central Asia and South Kazakhstan was established in the 1970s. It was overseen by the Coordination and Dispatch Center in Tashkent and helped balance seasonal changes in electricity demand and water needs during irrigation periods.

During winter, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan stored water in reservoirs and received electricity and energy resources (like coal and natural gas) from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. In summer, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan sent this stored water to their neighbors for irrigation and supplied excess electricity.

Hamidulla Shamsiyev, director of the Coordination and Dispatch Center (CDC) Energia, noted in early 2022 that Turkmenistan left the UES in 2003 on its own initiative, and engaged with the Iranian energy system, with which it continues cooperation to this day. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan operate following so-called “island” schemes, with dedicated generators for Uzbekistan.

Tajikistan was once disconnected from parallel operation due to repeated violations, decided collectively by other Central Asian UES participants, Shamsiyev commented. Currently, supported by the Asian Development Bank, efforts are underway to reintegrate Tajikistan’s energy system into the Central Asian UES.

“The Tajik power system has been independently regulating frequency all these years, which was facilitated by large reserves available at its hydropower plants. It is practically impossible to solve this task with thermal power plants (as in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) or weak reserves at hydropower plants (as in Kyrgyzstan in recent years). For this reason joint operation of these energy systems in a single Central Asian ring is an urgent necessity to ensure reliable parallel operation of Central Asian energy systems, expanding mutually beneficial cooperation not only between them, but also with their distant neighbors,” Shamsiyev said.

What is expected after Tajikistan’s accession?

The joint coordinated use of water and energy resources will benefit all countries in the region, as Asiaplustj.info notes.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will no longer experience electricity shortages in the fall-winter period, and Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan will maintain adequate water supplies during the irrigation season.

Tajikistan will revert to storing water in winter (currently done in summer), with its electricity needs met by supplies from downstream countries along transboundary rivers.

During summer, Tajikistan will fulfill its neighbors' irrigation water needs using water stored from winter