Gas-rich Uzbekistan has hiked its near-term targets for domestic renewable energy growth, with a plan to boost solar power generation to 5 gigawatt and wind and hydropower also in the mix.

Two major commercial solar plants — each with the capacity of 100 megawatts and built by United Arab Emirates' Masdar and France's Total Eren — are expected to come online as early as next year, with contracts for several other projects being finalised, the Energy Ministry said.

The former Soviet republic hopes that renewable sources of energy will account for 25% of its total energy output in 2030.

Wind power will also contribute to this goal, with the government selecting Masdar for a turnkey project to design and build a 500 MW wind-power plant in the Navoyi region.

The first phase of the plant — with 250 MW capacity — is expected to come into operation in April 2023, with the second phase due to be completed before the end of 2024.

Uzbekistan is pushing forward its projects with Masdar with financial backing from US-based International Finance Corporation and the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development.

Authorities in the capital Tashkent are also aiming to expand hydropower energy generation, promising to secure international investments into the upgrade of 11 existing power plants and the construction of four new ones to bring total capacity to over 1 GW.

Despite multi-million-dollar investments in the past three years to increase the stability of supply of its traditional energy source — gas — Uzbekistan has still seen a striking disparity between demand and supply this winter in many regions, including in Tashkent.

At more than 32 million citizens, Uzbekistan has the largest population among former Soviet republics in Central Asia, followed by neighbour Kazakhstan with 18 million.

Kazakh goals

Authorities in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan have also reconfirmed official targets for the share of renewables in its total energy mix.

Speaking earlier this week Energy Minister Nurlan Nogayev said this share should rise to 10% in 2030 and to 50% in 2050.

Home to three massive oilfield developments — Tengiz, Kashagan and Karachaganak — the country is a major exporter of hydrocarbons because of low domestic energy demand.

Still, Nogayev said accumulated investments into wind and solar projects are set to grow to $1.5 billion by end of this year, with 114 projects and total capacity of over 1.6 GW to be put into operation.

Complying with its commitments to the World Trade Organization, Kazakhstan is due to remove limits on using local content and services for projects with foreign investments next year, with the move expected to facilitate new renewable energy projects.

Kazakh contractors and suppliers are now pushing the government to use millions of dollars, paid each year by Tengiz oilfield operator Tengizchevroil, to foster development of local content providers into projects to grow a network of suppliers and manufacturers for solar and wind developments.