Uzbekistan and Russia agreed to build nuclear power plant
Uzbekistan said it reached agreement on joint construction of a nuclear power plant with Russia. It will help to decrease countries dependence on coal and gas. However, as Eurasianet.org notes, opponents of this agreement say that power plant may pose a danger to the environment. Neighboring Kazakhstan was in a similar situation for this reasons. Huge costs, associated with this project, raise questions about financing.
According to official data, 85% of Uzbekistan's annual electricity needs, which currently amount to about 69 billion kilowatt per hour, are provided by gas and coal production. The rest - by hydroelectric power plants. "If we continue to use natural gas and coal in this sector, our reserves will be depleted in a short time," President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said at a government meeting on July 10. "And that's will be an unforgivable mistake."
Power plant should be commissioned by 2028. According to government forecasts, it will allow the country to preserve 3.7 billion cubic meters of gas per year, which will save about half a billion dollars.
Ten locations across the country were chosen as possible locations for the construction of nuclear power plant. But at the end of May during his visit to Tashkent head of the Rostam Alexei Likhachev announced that it is likely to be constructed in the Navoiy region.
Rosatom proposes to build two 1200 megawatts blocks. The company builds similar plants in Belarus and in Bangladesh. In early July, Uzbek delegation went to Belarus to look at the progress made there.
Uzbek political scientist Bakhtiyor Ergashev believes that Uzbekistan has everything necessary for development of nuclear energy.
"Uzbekistan has its own nuclear reactor," Ergashev said, referring to the research reactor at the Tashkent Institute of Nuclear Physics. "It's can produce large amounts of raw uranium."
If it will be built, Uzbekistan can become the first country in Central Asia with nuclear power plant. Neighboring Kazakhstan, which is a leading producer of raw uranium, thinks about construction of a nuclear power plant for a long time, but this idea faced serious opposition.
Uzbek ecologist Yusup Kamalov, discussing fears voiced in Kazakhstan, said that power plant can be dangerous for population inside and outside of Uzbekistan. "Decision was made under Russia's pressure," Kamalov said. - Russia offers its technologies, specialists and finances lion's share of construction. It's strange that Uzbekistan, while having everything to develop renewable energy sources, follows Russia's instructions."