The GEF Small Grants Programme

in Uzbekistan

Will microenergetics be able to solve the problems of our village?

It has been mentioned many times in many international "smart" papers, that the availability of sustainable energy is the cornerstone of development. I'm not going to prove this truth. What is most remarkable is to understand that many people in our regions understand it.

Last week I was in Andijan concerning the possibility of building a micro hydro station. The meeting was conducted absolutely accidentally, at the innovation fair, and quite possibly, if this meeting results in a good project with great prospects for Uzbekistan, then the fair had one more good result among others. We met Rustam Tashmatov at the fair. He said that he needed help in the construction of 200 kW power station. 200 kW is not a joke, this is a serious plant that can supply with energy a whole village. Previously, we tried micro hydro stations only for individual needs.
After a while, when I had a great deal to do in Fergana valley, I went with a clear purpose to find out all the details of micro hydro plant.

Tashmatov Rustam met us with hospitality so characteristic to people of the Valley. He told me everything – about the precondition and how everything started. Rustam aka himself, is a scientist who made a lot of things with his own hands and head, together with his scientists-associates from the University of Andijan. Our country has a great scientific potential, which should be found and supported.

Rustam Tashmatov near his micro hydro station

Maybe I won’t tell you word by word, but I will relay the general sense of our conversation, my words and that of Rustam-aka. I would like to say that his words describe the situation accurately and probably there is nothing to add:

“In Uzbekistan more than 60% of the population live in rural areas. Previously, the figure was 68%, then 65% then 62%, now it is about 60%. We all know that we are losing people from rural areas. We have brain drain. People go to work in cities, to other countries. Old people, women remain in rural areas. There are more and more so-called “grass widows”, when a man went for earnings, and the woman and children stay at home in the village. Hence we will have a number of problems in the future because there is nothing good when kids grow up without their fathers. And soon there won’t be those who will be able to take care of old people, because all people go to cities.

Where do these problems come from? There are many reasons, but one of them is lack of stable, reliable source of energy. Maybe people would like to do something: to open a small shop, for sewing, shoe repair, processing of milk or something else, but how one can do it if we have electricity in the village for only a few hours a day? (And the situation is the same across the country. I face this issue constantly traveling around the country).
It is necessary to arrange things so that people could have stable, reliable and steady source of energy. This will help in many issues

A turbine of the micro hydro station that Rustam-aka made himself

A machine shop, where the turbine is spinning the flywheel and drives the generator of 63 kW

Discharge channel, from the turbine side

Channel through which the water comes the turbine

We went to the place where Rustam-aka installed a microhydro station by his own forces. He was supported by khokimiyat that allocated land and did not interfere in any matter. Rustam-aka founded the turbine himself in the city shops. You can see in the picture that this is a serious machine. They built canal branch, the water discharge with a height of 8 meters. Not so much water is needed - the type of flow is not very large. Of course, computation is needed everywhere. Firstly he built then launched into operation in test mode. Power turbine - 200 kW. But the generator was only for 63 kW. We put this generator and tested it. It worked during the whole winter. Rice mills were idle everywhere - there was no light, but the one next to the micro-hydro was worked. And people in the village had electricity. And the local school had it. If I lived in that village, and people like Rustam-aka would provide electricity for me, I would pray for him.

But we must go further. We need not just a random example, but need to do something that could become a small model for the country. We discussed the details of what could be done, how to solve the problem. Of course, micro hydro station is not a panacea. But there are very many opportunities across the country.
Just today in the news there was a program on the alternative energy in Europe. In Sweden, 48% of energy costs are covered by the alternatives. In Germany, where industry is highly developed and therefore energy demands are very high, probably the largest among developed countries in Europe, now 18% of energy is received from alternative sources. So, what can we do now in our country?

According to Rustam-aka, basically now you can work as an independent power producer. The conditions are not very good and you can work on it, but still they are available. Alternative energy producer can produce energy and sell it to Uzbekenergo. Uzbekenergo is a natural monopoly, and only this government agency can sell energy to consumers. That is, actually Uzbekenergo serves as a network of "retail sale" of energy. But the producers of alternative energy can make and sell it to Uzbekenergo, if it is certified, that is, produced on a certified equipment. Unfortunately, the generators are not made in our country. They can be procured in Russia. Rustam-aka tells of asynchronous generators produced in Tiraspol. If the energy will be produced on that equipment, which has a certificate of quality and standard and other required documents, it will be possible to produce energy and sell it as the product.

In this case, you can put a separate feeder that will supply the nearest village from a micro hydro station through the existing network. People will pay to Uzbekenergo for the energy and Uzbekenergo will buy this energy from the company of Rustam-aka. And it could be a possible model for replication in other regions.
Now it is too early to talk about the following problems, but we agreed that we would work together. Our help is very small, and Rustam-aka would not have applied to the GEF SGP with his problem if there were normal loans for a long-term period of time for payback of the equipment. He gave an example:
"In 1926, when there was a difficult period, in spite of everything, a micro hydro station was built nearby. And it is still working. It repaid itself many, many times. And it is still working. I am often asked:" How many working places can you create? " to which I reply -" Maybe I'll create very few jobs, but the energy that I give, will create hundreds of jobs and people will work and produce something. One should not think one-sidedly. This sector needs support of the state, because many other things are dependent on it".

And the turbine once again. I had no idea that it can be done by one’s own hands. And it is simply amazing that a man was able to realize such an idea on his own.

This is a potential project of the GEF SGP. I was amazed that no one had helped Rustam-aka so far. Perhaps there is a good project ahead of us, which will show how and what you can do, and maybe it will become an example for other regions of the country. And the government will evaluate the benefits of developing such alternative energy sources.