MANILA, PHILIPPINES - An ageing facility in Tajikistan's electricity supply network which is in danger of collapse is being rehabilitated with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Nurek Hydroelectric Power Plant produces over 70% of the country's electricity. It also plays a key role in regulating the frequency of power transmitted through the interlinked electricity networks of four other Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

However, the plant's two switchyards - containing equipment that allows a transmission grid operator to clear faults in the system and to switch off parts of the grid to allow maintenance work to be done - were built more than 30 years ago and can no longer deliver a stable supply of power. In addition, some areas in the switchyards have been submerging due to unstable ground conditions, presenting a further threat.

ADB is providing a grant of $54.77 million from its Special Funds for the Nurek Switchyard Reconstruction Project. The funds will be used to replace outdated equipment in the 500 kilovolt (kV) switchyard, with new switchgear moved to a more stable area of the plant. The Government and Barki Tajik will provide counterpart fund of $12.1 million for the project.

The grant follows an earlier government loan agreement under which Germany's Credit Institute for Reconstruction, or Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, agreed to finance replacement equipment in the 220kV switchyard.

The proceeds of ADB's grant will be loaned to state-owned utility, Barki Tajik Joint Stock Holding Company, which will award a single contract for the reconstruction work.

"The project will ensure a sustainable and reliable electricity supply to support economic development. It will also mitigate the risk of natural disasters disabling the switchyard and will stabilize the flow of electricity coming from this strategically important power plant," said Jim Liston, Principal Energy Specialist in ADB's Central and West Asia Department.

ADB also supports the government's efforts to better utilize the country's hydropower. At present, Tajikistan's vast hydro resources have barely been tapped and there is significant potential to export hydro-generated electricity to neighboring countries that suffer from power shortages.

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