TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a loan totaling $110 million for a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Samarkand, Uzbekistan that will promote large scale solar energy development in the country.

“This project will be the largest of its kind in Central Asia and one of the largest in the world,” ADB President Takehiko Nakao said during the 6th meeting of the Asia Solar Energy Forum in Tashkent. “Uzbekistan has a large land mass, plenty of sunshine, and the highly skilled and educated human resources needed to become a major player in solar energy development in this region.”

The Samarkand Solar Power Project will help Uzbekistan—one of the most energy and carbon intensive countries in the world—tackle power outages, diversify its energy sources, and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 90% of the country’s power is currently generated from fossil fuel-based plants and require major investments to replace or upgrade. The aging power network also suffers from high losses and the supply-demand gap has become acute in some areas including Samarkand.

Uzbekistan has high solar energy irradiance and the plant—which will use state-of-the-art photovoltaic technology—will help the Government of Uzbekistan expand the use of renewable energy in its power mix. The government is aiming to generate about 21% of all its energy needs from renewable sources, including solar, by 2031.

The project will provide training and other support to Uzbekenergo, the state joint stock company, to raise its capacity to manage the plant and other solar facilities. Capacity building support will also be given to stakeholders, including the International Solar Energy Institute. The institute will help Uzbekistan achieve its aim of becoming the region’s solar energy knowledge and technology hub.

ADB’s assistance will come from its Asian Development Fund. Counterpart financing of $200 million is being extended by Uzbekistan’s Fund for Reconstruction and Development and by Uzbekenergo. The project is expected to run for about five years with an estimated completion date of March 2019.

The Asia Solar Energy Forum promotes knowledge exchange on solar energy across Asia and the Pacific and was established in September 2012. Its participants include government officials, project developers, equipment manufacturers, lenders, development agency staff, and other stakeholders. The forum is exploring the latest technology trends and opportunities for solar energy development in the region.

ADB is a co-organizer of the forum, which is being held in Central Asia for the first time and is the first to have African delegates participating. At the forum, ADB member countries in the region with large solar energy resources are being encouraged to develop their own solar energy potential.

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