Alternative energy in Turkmenistan: potential and prospects

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Scientists call production and use of alternative energy from nonconventional power sources ‘future energy’ that rapidly develops in many countries across the world in recent years.

As is known, the development of innovative, environmentally friendly technologies aimed at using natural power sources – solar, wind, hydro, geo- and hydrothermal heat, biogas and others is a major task set to modern science. The scientific and technological progress and dynamically developing industry guarantee the high standards of living as well as cause a gradual depletion of fossil resources – hydrocarbons. The transition to alternative energy produced by the renewable energy sources (RES) will be an important contribution to sustainable economic development and, moreover, will allow reducing an adverse industrial impact on the quality of the environment and the health of people and help to address global challenges of the modern world such as climate change.

The practically inexhaustible reserves of natural energy, responsibility for environmental cleanliness of industries through generating alternative energy, cost effectiveness – these factors made this sector of power industry that determined a new development trend – ‘green economy’ attractive for investments. Today, over 70 countries worldwide including Turkmenistan make substantial investments in the development of energy- and resource-saving technologies such as the clean development mechanism projects that produce less impact on the environment and apparent social and economic benefit – the development of new industries, encouragement of private sector and creation of new jobs.

Scientists assume that the share of the solar energy in the volume of global energy production will make up about 26 percent by 2040. One of the most promising methods for receiving clean energy in this field is photo electric energy that Turkmen scientists contribute to by conducting scientific research and development work.

Increasing transit of energy to world markets our country pursues the strategy aimed at widely introducing innovative, resource-saving, environmentally sound technologies regarding alternative energy as a priority trend in the development of the national fuel and energy sector. This year a very significant step to intensify scientific and technological research in this field and increase effectiveness of research results was the adoption of the Resolution of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on the establishment of the Sun Research Institute affiliated with the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan.

Today, the assets of the Sun Institute include a number of the successful projects in this important field on the development and testing of the experimental plants. By studying the wind and solar energy potential and the peculiarities of energy, heat and water supply in the natural areas of the country, 80 percent of which is occupied by the desert and mountains, the Turkmen scientists aim the research and design activities to meet the needs of the population residing and working in the localities remote from the industrial centres. This work include energy supply, pumping water from wells and boreholes, heating, cooling, drying, cultivation of algai biomass, household and industrial wastes recycling and production of biodiesel and organic fertilizers, waste-free autonomous raising cattle and cultivation of plants, creation of the comfortable conditions in settlements. Among the achievements of the scientists and specialists of the Sun Institute are the waste-free autonomous wind and solar units with the life support system, universal solar drying unit, solar desalination unit and solar heating module, the unit for cultivating algae in solar phootobioreactors, ‘solar’ furnace for high-temperature tests, different constructions of solar greenhouses, biogas production unit. The wind and energy unit is installed on Gyzylsu Island in the Caspian Sea to supply water to the local school.

The practical value of these projects is obvious. Though Turkmenistan produces enough electrical power, a part of its territory is occupied by the localities where laying of power transmission lines is quite difficult. Local generation of energy from renewable energy sources is free from the risks of power cuts and reduces the fuel costs. In the localities where the population has no access to power supply networks, renewable source can supply energy faster and without the high costs. The units designed by the Turkmen scientists help to solve this problem, for example in remote pastures, oil and gas fields, the islands and the seashore of the Caspian Sea as well as create new jobs for local people. Moreover, along with environmental cleanliness the energy-saving technologies have an important advantage – a long period of operation that is conditioned by the practically unlimited ‘reserves’ of resources.

Today, relying on their own experience and the achievements of world science, Turkmen scientists take a task-oriented approach to using alternative energy. Their long-term plans are to design mini solar accumulators, wind and solar photovoltaic plants, solar collectors and photobioreactors, mini biodiesel and other autonomous industrial units through using high technologies and new design solutions. These units will be used to develop the arid areas, the territory around the Turkmen Lake, to create Avaza national tourism zone on the Caspian seashore.

Intensification of mutually advantageous cooperation in this field with the leading think tanks across the world is illustrated by the successful projects implemented in collaboration with the scientists in Germany – a universally recognized leader in the application of renewable energy. The first steps include the Tempus project aimed at training and retraining of specialists at the world-renowned pioneer of solar technology – the Technical University Mountain Academy of Freiberg. Significant importance attached to solar energy developments across the world is illustrated by the project that studies the possibility of producing silicon from the Karakum sand for photovoltaic converters. The grant for the implementation of this project was awarded to the Sun Institute by the Islamic Development Bank.

The new ways of cooperation on the development of clean technologies and introduction of advanced renewable energy technologies were specified during the Turkmen-Korean forum, which was held at the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan this November with the participation of the scientists of the Korea Institute of Environmental Science and Technology.

The representatives of the large foreign companies and firms interested in suing the potential of Turkmen scientists and inventors put forward the proposals on cooperation at II International Energy Exhibition and Conference, which was conducted in Ashgabat this April and became an important step to develop new contacts and exchange experiences in developing environmentally friendly advanced technology and industries through using clean energy.

A new step to develop alternative energy in the country, expanding practical application of scientific advances in this field will be the first International Scientific Conference on the Use of Alternative Energy Sources in Turkmenistan, which will be conducted in Ashgabat in 2010.

State News Agency of Turkmenistan (TDH)

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