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Turkmenistan to tackle power supply problems
System in need of renovation
By Sabir Rakhmatov
ASHGABAT – After 20 years of neglect, Turkmenistan is launching a programme to renovate its electrical power grid.
In late July, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov convened a meeting of his cabinet and officials from the Turkish consortium Çalık Holding to discuss plans to renovate the nation’s power grid.
The power system renovation project, to be implemented in Ashgabat in three stages over the next five years, involves modernising or building from scratch 60 substations that will hook up to the grid. A still-unbuilt control centre will manage the system, TurkmenEnergo spokesman Aman K. said.
Turkmenistan officials have estimated the cost of the project at $10m (28.4 TMT).
The Ashgabat grid is badly worn out, he noted.
“Very little has been done in the post-Soviet years (to improve the system); what we did manage to do was connect Tashauz Oblast to the national power grid in 1996 and put the Serdar substation into operation in 2001,” he said. “Blackouts occur frequently because of the worn-out power transmission lines and substations, so modernisation is very timely.”
Blackouts are frequent, especially in winter, Ashgabat resident Yazgul said. “In the past, the situation was better; now electricity goes off each time the weather worsens. I wish they'd have started renovating the system sooner,” she said.
Modernisation of substations and power transmission lines throughout the country is to be completed within the next eight years, Aman K. said, adding that power cables will go through underground tunnels rather than hang from poles.
“The majority of developed countries use this system; also, it is easier to preserve and maintain for a longer time,” he said. “And there will be fewer outages than now.”
Renovating Turkmenistan's power grid is “a must” if the country plans to be an important partner on the regional level, independent economist Bek Atayev said.
“Turkmenistan sells electricity to Tajikistan and Afghanistan and plans to go further,” he said. “But to be able to do so, the country must have reliable power transmission facilities in the first place.”
More than just technical changes are needed, Aman K. said. “Many energy and electrical industry workers need retraining, and such courses will be organised for them,” he said. “Some may even be sent abroad to amass foreign experience, but this issue hasn't been decided yet.”
Particular attention should be given to specialist training in the regions, he added. “In Ashgabat, modern technology is more or less known; but in the regions, the situation looks more complicated.”