Avtandil Kalmambetov, Minister of Industry, Energy and Fuel Resources, discusses key energy-sector projects now underway.
European Times: What are the Ministry’s responsibilities for the energy sector?
Avtandil Kalmambetov: The Ministry helps develop energy policies and regulations and works to ensure reliable power supplies throughout the country. We oversee the production, distribution and transmission of electricity and we are also in charge of Bishkek’s heating system as well as overseeing utility companies and electricity-generation units. We ensure gas is supplied to customers by Kyrgyz Gas, and we oversee the country’s production and distribution of around 1.3 billion tonnes of coal annually. Before independence, Kyrgyzstan had around 100 power-production units; now we have around 60, most of which have been privatised.
European Times: What are some of your current priorities?
Avtandil Kalmambetov: We are focussing on developing hydropower plants. Kyrgyzstan’s hydropower potential is an impressive 142 billion kWh, and only 10% of this is currently being exploited. Our plants date from the 1960s and new technologies and modernisation are urgently needed. For the future of the energy sector, we are interested in building a new hydropower plant, Kambarata 1, and a dam on the upper Narin River. Kambarata 1 will have an installed capacity of 1900 MW and should produce around 5.1 billion kWh per year. This project will create around 18,000 jobs, help Kyrgyzstan achieve energy independence, and provide energy for export.
European Times: Are you also developing Kyrgyzstan’s transmission infrastructure?
Avtandil Kalmambetov: We have launched a project to build and install high-voltage transmission lines throughout the country. At present we are still transporting our electricity via lines located in Uzbek territory. Our goal for the near future is for Kyrgyzstan to have its own transmission lines and to be energy-independent. We have already begun the modernisation of our energy infrastructure around Bishkek and we want to extend this modernisation throughout the country with the help of investors and partners.
European Times: What about regional energy initiatives?
Avtandil Kalmambetov: Kyrgyzstan is very interested in cooperating with our neighbours in regional energy projects. We already have a strong energy-sector partnership with Kazakhstan, and through our involvement in CASA-1000, we plan on playing a key role in developing Central Asia’s energy sector. As the world’s energy resources decrease, we believe that all countries must think proactively and work together to ensure adequate supplies of energy in the future.