SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan -- An extraordinary statue of a man pushing a huge stone block dominates the Karshi Steppe en route to Samarkand.
According to legend, the man was a stonecutter in ancient times by the name of Farkhad, who managed to break through granite rock and open the way for the Syr Darya River to reach the drought-ridden Golodnaya Steppe. He did so, says the legend, in order to get water to people who were dying from thirst.
These days, statues commemorating Farkhad can be found at almost every power plant in Uzbekistan. And the World Bank-supported Talimarjan Thermal Power Plant is no exception.
"This unique plant is an endless source of stories," said Akram Ergashev, an engineer who helped build the plant. "Construction started in 1982, in Kashkadarya region, with the aim of providing electricity not only to Uzbekistan, but also to neighbouring countries -- Tajikistan, the south of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. It is the only power plant in Central Asia that has a power generation unit with capacity of 800MW."
Fast-growing region needed more power
Over the past few decades, the population in southwestern Uzbekistan has grown rapidly, and with it the number of industrial consumers who receive power from the Talimarjan plant. Consequently, it was necessary to expand the plant’s capacity, increase power generation and transmission efficiency, and create conditions for power export.
The Talimarjan Transmission Project included the addition of two new combined-cycle gas turbine units to generate more power (financed by the ADB [Asian Development Bank], JICA [Japan International Co-operation Agency] and local investments) and also construction of a new high-voltage power transmission line. These additions have reduced power transmission losses and increased power supply reliability. The number of electricity outages in the project area shrank from 92 hours to 24 hours per year, with voltage variation range cut by half.
Today, more than 4 million residents of southwestern Uzbekistan, along with thousands of enterprises, enjoy a more reliable power supply. Robust operation of the plant and commissioning of new facilities will create opportunities to implement promising large and small business projects and further strengthen the country's energy export potential.
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