The World Bank remains committed to helping Tajikistan solve its winter electricity crisis in the quickest and most sustainable way possible.
Tajikistan’s electricity shortages are caused by a combination of insufficient winter hydropower output when river flows are low and high demand driven by heating needs. The economic cost of electricity load shedding and unmet demand is estimated at about 3% of GDP.
Tajikistan’s monthly electricity generation vs. demand in 2009
Tajikistan’s electricity crisis has a disproportionate impact on the country’s poor and rural households. According to the United Nations Development Program, more than 1 million people in Tajikistan’s rural areas suffer frequent and prolonged blackouts each winter; more than half of households surveyed in 2009 reported heating with wood and dung.
A recently concluded World Bank study, “Tajikistan’s Winter Energy Crisis: Electricity Supply and Demand Alternatives (English, Russian),” shows that unless prompt action is taken, Tajikistan’s electricity crisis can be expected to worsen. By 2016, the shortages could equal almost a third of winter energy if no actions are taken.
“Tajikistan’s Winter Energy Crisis: Electricity Supply and Demand Alternatives” examines a range of alternatives to meeting Tajikistan’s winter electricity needs over the next eight years, focusing on near-term solutions that will help reduce the shortages before 2020. Given the complexity of large storage hydropower projects and the time needed to build them, this study excludes large hydropower investments. The research was undertaken in parallel to the Assessment Studies for the proposed Rogun Hydropower Project.
The proposed actions in this study could significantly reduce Tajikistan’s electricity shortages. Their implementation would require US$3.4 billion over the next 8 years. The recommended actions are:
- Ambitious energy efficiency improvements that address the industrial sector, buildings and scale up the loss reduction program.
- The country’s aluminum company, TALCO, to switch its maintenance schedule from summer to winter and implement financially attractive investments to reduce its energy consumption.
- An increase in electricity prices to encourage residential customers to ration their use of energy, combined with an improved targeted social safety net and a related energy efficiency program to improve affordability.
- Revitalized regional power trade to provide substantial and affordable relief during winter energy shortages.
- Investing in dual-fired thermal power supply to complement hydropower during winter. When Tajikistan’s power capacity is reduced by low river flows, coal-fired power plants could be relied on more. These power plants should be dual-fired plants that use coal initially and then switch to clean, low-cost gas as soon as it is available.
The World Bank is committed to working with the Government of Tajikistan and international development partners on an action plan for implementing some of these recommendations, including improving the social safety net and efficiency of the current electricity system.