Water Issues and Hydropower Engineerinп

 Hydro energy resources of Tajikistan and water use problems in Central Asia




The Republic of Tajikistan is a highland with heights from 300 m to 7,495 m, and is located in the southeast part of the Central Asia, and has access neither to sea nor to ocean. 93% of all territory of the country belongs to the mountains related to the highest mountain systems of the world, such as Tien Shan, Hissar-Alay and Pamirs. Tajikistan possesses more than one thousand mountain glaciers, and the largest glacier is Fedchenko with 77 km long. The country is located in the two main rivers basin of the Central Asian region: Amu Darya and Sir-Darya. Tajikistan forms main water resources of the entire region. From the general total amount of a regional flow of 115 km³, Tajikistan directly forms 64 km³. If one takes into account a transit flow of the Sir-Darya River, so the combined water resources makes 80 km³, i.e. almost 70% of regional water resources in total.


Tajikistan is rated the 8th in the world on the general stock of hydro energy resources. As for a stock per capita (87.8 thousand kWh a year), Tajikistan is rated the 2nd in the world, and it takes the 1st place for a stock per territory unit (3.62 million kWh on 1 km²).

Potential stock of hydro energy resources of Tajikistan makes 527.06 billion kWh a year, and only 4-5% of the stock is used. Nearly 50% of hydro energy resources that make more than 280 billion kWh a year are technically feasible and economically effective for developing, taking into account advanced rate of technical and technological development.


Today hydro energy resources applicable for use in Tajikistan exceed almost twice generation of electricity in the Central Asian region (150 billion kWh per year) and make 60% of general consumption of primary energy resources in it, including coal, oil and gas, at that hydro energy resources are equally distributed throughout the territory of the country and are available not only on large, but also on the small rivers.


Potential stock of hydro energy resources of Tajikistan



River basins Average annual power capacity, in MWh Average annual energy, in TWh Share in general volume, %
Panj 14030 122,9 23,2
Gunt 2260 19,8 3,73
Bartang 2969 26,01 4,93
Vanj 1191 10,34 1,96
Yazgulom 845 7,4 1,39
Kizil-su 1087 9,52 1,78
Vakhsh 28670 251,15 48
Kafarnigan 4249 37,22 7
Kara-kul Lake 103 0,9 0,17
Surkhan-Darya 628 5,5 1,03
Zeravshan 3875 33,94 6,38
Sir-Darya 260 2,28 0,43
Total 60167 527,06 100


Intensive development of hydro energy resources of Tajikistan began in the sixties of the 20th century, and a high rate of development of the sphere is noted during the period from 1960 to 1987.


It should be noted that within the last twenty years electricity generation in the country remains stable. The annual electricity needs of Tajikistan make about 22-24 billion kWh. Tajikistan annually generates 17-18 billion kWh and electricity deficiency makes 5 billion kWh a year. The peak of deficiency falls on autumn and winter, so annually from October to April the country has to impose limitations on electricity consumption while in the summer electricity generation in the country exceeds internal needs on 1.5 billion kWh.


Construction of Rogun HPP, the largest one in the Central Asia, was launched in 1976. The designed capacity of Rogun HPP is 3.600 MW with 6 units 600 MW each, and annual energy generation is 13.1 billion kWh.


Rogun HPP is the largest on the Vakhsh River, and will provide the most efficient operation of the cascade. After putting the Rogun HPP into operation, full implementation of hydro energy potential of the Vakhsh River would be possible.


By long-term flow regulation, Rogun HPP will not only increase the total energy generation of the cascade hydropower stations on the Vakhsh River, but most importantly will allow it to develop the base-load energy, and be of particular regional importance.


Currently HPP retains its complex purpose and can be operated both in clean energy mode without disrupting the water situation in Amu Darya basin and Aral Sea area, and in irrigation priority mode.


Water storage of Rogun HPP together with Norak HPP on Vakhsh River, and Tuyamuyun HPP on Amu Darya River with total usable capacity of 18-19 km³ can provide long-term regulation of Amu Darya River flow with additional guaranteed water yield of 5.0-5.9 km³ to the lands of Amu Darya basin located in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.


The main peculiarities of the Central Asian region are that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan having limited hydrocarbon resources and irrigated lands located in the upper watersheds of major rivers in Central Asia, and they are Sir Darya and Amu Darya. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with huge hydrocarbon reserves and capacities to expand irrigated lands are located in the scattering zone of the flow.


Percentage ratio shows that Tajikistan forms approximately 55.4% of the total flow of the Aral Sea basin, Kyrgyzstan - 25.3%, Uzbekistan - 7.6%, Kazakhstan - 3.9%, Turkmenistan - 2.4%. Afghanistan, China and Pakistan jointly form 5.4% of the flow.


A number of documents of the Soviet and post-Soviet periods currently regulate water management issues in the region. The most important are the Agreement* on Cooperation in Joint Management, Use and Protection of Interstate Sources of Water Resources (1992,  Almaty)  and the Declaration* on Sustainable Development of the Aral Sea Basin (1995, Nukus), in which the Heads of Central Asian states reaffirmed their willingness to recognize previously signed and existing agreements, treaty and other legal acts regulating the relationship between them on water resources in the Aral Sea basin, and execute these legal acts steadily and exactly.


Issues of water resources` use and allocation in the Aral Sea basin have become topical in the region even in the early years of independence and demanded from the Basin States taking of practical measures to address them.


It’s well known that the problem of the Aral Sea is the problem of choosing between economic and environmental needs of the downstream countries. Unreasonable and irrational use of water resources for the years 1960-1990, the expansion of irrigation lands in the basin area led to the degradation of the Aral Sea.  Rapid development of irrigation lands in the region mainly in the downstream states without considering environmental laws contributed to the Aral Sea disaster and now it is a global problem.


To this end and aimed at overcoming the ecological crisis as well as improving the socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea basin, the Heads of Central Asian States established the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) in order to implement intergovernmental dialogue for addressing both environmental problems and water-economic and water-energy issues. Countries in the region take necessary measures within the framework of IFAS in order to conduct stable operation of water and economic complex.


Striving of Tajikistan for development hydro energy in the absence of other tangible energy sources in the industrial sector, as well as acute electricity shortage for the population, faced lack of understanding of the states which seek to further expand the irrigation areas for the agricultural needs.


In this situation, Tajikistan suffers from discriminatory “restrictive and prohibitive” measures imposed by individual countries of the region aimed at putting pressure on the country and compelling it to reject implementation of vital hydropower projects on its territory. In violation of universally recognized norms of international law, they continue to create artificial barriers to economic cargoes transportation on rail transit and transportation routes in their territory, they also conduct propaganda activities in order to oppose implementation of economic projects in Tajikistan: such activities cause significant harm to the people and national economy.


Obviously, the problem of irrigation and water supply, and thereby, drawdown regimes of river reservoirs regulation and, respectively, power generation in the upper reaches in case of non-integration of economies, regional electricity networks and the lack of adequate legal and treaty framework for use of water resources may lead to inconsistencies in irrigation and hydro energy interests. Practice of relations between countries in the region shows that all of these issues may be well resolved in the framework of existing regional mechanisms, through the joint elaboration of new agreements, negotiation of mutually beneficial arrangements, and most importantly, with the goodwill of the States concerned.


Water Initiatives of the Republic of Tajikistan, endorsed by the General Assembly of the UN International Year of Freshwater, 2003, the International Decade for Action "Water for Life", 2005-2015, have consolidated understanding of the international community about needs to move from discussions, expression of intentions and declaration of obligations to implementation of practical measures. This is a new strategic goal of the international community for the sake of life and humanity.


In solving problems of water resources management, the Republic of Tajikistan follows the relevant principles of international law, and guided by the strategic interests of the country enshrined in the National Development Strategy up to 2015, the Poverty Reduction Strategy of population and other fundamental documents.


Tajikistan's hydro energy resources are simply unique. Annual resources in the country are equal to the volume of electricity generated by all electric power stations of the Central Asian countries, including hydraulic and thermal.


Tajikistan pays also a great attention to small hydroenergy in the government programs, and its overall capacity is more than 21,000 MW. It is worth to say that almost 50 % of these resources are technically feasible for the development right now. The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan plans to construct 71 small HPP up to the year 2020.


Aimed at supplying power from hydroelectric power stations which are currently under construction, as well as for the purpose of exporting electricity, Tajikistan has developed and is implementing some investment projects on construction of high-voltage energy transmission lines.


© 2018 Ambassy Republic of Tajikistan to Turkmenistan