The report has been compiled by etc4CA – a commercial venture started in 2010 to equip people in Central Asia to do business better. Renewable energy provision is one of etc4CA’s projects to establish local catalysts for business. We believe that energy is essential for a community’s economic viability and this project has been initiated in the hope that it goes some way towards addressing the complex energy issues of the region.
This report results from reconnaissance performed in May 2009 and 2011 across a range of locations in Western and Central Kyrgyzstan. Its purpose is to identify opportunities for wind power as an alternative source of renewable energy to address the energy issues affecting communities that live in these regions. Due to the geographic size of the region and the time available to make the assessment, some assumptions have been made to exclude areas where there is little likelihood of wind or areas where hydro-electric generation is the obvious ongoing solution.
The significant population centres of Kyrgyzstan are well provided for through the ongoing investment in hydro-electric power generation. Indeed, Kyrgyzstan is already reliant on renewable energy to the extent that 91% of its energy comes from this source. (“Development of the Renewable Energy Sector in the Kyrgyz Republic” K. Djusupov, Deputy Minister, March 2010, Beijing)
etc4CA fully recognises and commends the ongoing endeavours of the Kyrgyz government and other agencies in this success.
There are two clear imperatives for Kyrgyzstan to consider wind power as a source of renewable energy. With the continued escalation of water management challenges of Central Asia, it would be expedient for Kyrgyzstan to investigate more options to diversify its energy generation sources. Also, glacial shrinkage across the Tien Shan has now been demonstrated over a protracted period and there is a strategic requirement to understand the potential for alternative energy sources if glacial run-off were to reduce, as is likely, in the longer term. (Sources: “Kyrgyzstan: Melting Glaciers Threaten Central Asia’s Ecological and Energy Future” Published on EurasiaNet by K. Kumkova on October 18, 2010. Permafrost warming in the Tien Shan mountains, Central Asia. Global and Planetary Change, 56 (3–4), 311–327By Marchenko, S.S., Gorbunov A.P. and Romanovsky, V.E. (2007))
This report reveals that Kyrgyzstan has only one area for the use of wind power as a strategic source of renewable energy. Specifically, the Balikchi area has the potential to become an energy exporter with the development of significant wind farms. Other tactical opportunities appear to exist in the communities of the Alay valley (Sary Tash, Sary Mogul, etc.).
In most of Kyrgyzstan a grid network exists to supply communities with electricity derived from hydro-electric generation. It is recommended that a pilot project to implement wind turbines in the Balikchi area is commenced, initially feeding the generated electricity into a local community initiative (i.e. not into the grid). This pilot will demonstrate the availability of wind as an energy source and will also evaluate the performance of wind turbine technologies when exposed to the local climatic conditions.
This report recommends that a Project Initiation Document (PID) be developed to identify an approach to validating wind power potential in the area around Balikchi. It is expected that there will be significant donor and investment interest expressed in support of such a programme if Kyrgyz governmental agencies are willing to actively support such an investment and share in the solutions.
This PID will be published before the end of 2011 and it is expected that the project should commence with a pilot installation in spring 2013.
Kyrgyzstan is 94% mountainous and the country’s average elevation is 2750m. Over 80,000Km2 is higher than 3000m, of which 75% is currently under permanent snow and glaciers.
The Tien Shan mountain range is the dominant feature that extends from the Chinese border in the south to the Kazakhstan border in the north. To the west of the country, the Fergana range and the Pamir Alay ranges surround the fertile Fergana valley. Lake Issyk-Kol forms a deep indentation into the mountains in the North-East. The lake is almost 700m deep and never freezes due to its salinity. The main rivers of Kyrgyzstan are the Naryn, flowing almost the full length of the country into the Syr-Darya in the Fergana valley, and the Chuy that flow east to west along the Kazakhstan border.
For the purposes of this report, ‘renewable energy provision’ has been defined in just three categories of solution: solar; hydro-electric; and, wind.
The scope of this report does not extend to consider issues regarding the implications of its findings such as solution technologies, sourcing, installation, configuration and servicing/maintenance. These subjects will be covered in a Project Initiation Document that is referred to later in the conclusions of this report.
3Tier wind maps have been referenced to initially identify those areas in Kyrgyzstan that might have sufficient wind potential (i.e. greater than 3-4m/s average wind speeds). Due to the geographic breadth of Kyrgyzstan and the limited duration of the reconnaissance, evaluations have, in some cases, relied upon anecdotal evidence, combined with experiential information. As part of this reconnaissance, monitoring equipment (anemometer and compass) will be left with a number of individuals to collect data over the next year. Historic meteorological information has also been obtained and is documented in Appendix A.
The reconnaissance was performed over two three-week periods in May 2009 and 2011. The following locations were visited over this time:
- Sary Tash and Gulcha
Fergana Valley& Fergana Range
- Osh, Jalal-Abad, Aslanbob, Kara-Kol, Kyrgyz Alatau Range, Toktogul, Talas and Suusamyr
- Kara Balta, Bishkek, Tokmok and Kemin
- Balikchi, Cholpon-Ata and Kochkor
Central Tien Shan Range
- Naryn and Song-Kol
More than 99% of the population of the Kyrgyzstan live in or near the locations covered by the reconnaissance.
Geographic gaps in this reconnaissance are considerable. However, the gaps are, in general, very sparsely populated and extremely mountainous. Notable exceptions are the southern slopes of the Fergana valley (Batran, Katran and Isfana) which will hopefully be reconnoitred in October 2011.
A number of homesteads have already individually invested in solar panels, almost always of a size less than 1m2 and generally 0.25m2. These solutions were all providing The majority of renewable energy solutions in Kyrgyzstan have been focussed upon hydro-electricity generation for both on and off-grid electricity. Installed hydropower capacity is approximately 2,950 MW (80% of overall installed generating capacity). However, the estimated available hydropower resource of Kyrgyzstan is 18,500 MW.
An overview of the trans-boundary water management situation across the Central Asian region shows that tensions over water will inevitably grow and the situation is now progressing towards to political deadlock. Hence, it is possible to hypothesise that unpleasant outcomes of the situation might occur if further hydropower capacity is realised in the upstream riparian states of either Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan. The following hydro-electricity generating plants have been identified:
Hydropower in the Fergana Range and valley makes wind/solar renewable energy sources comparatively less cost effective alternatives.
Wind energy as a consistent source of electricity is an excellent prospect in many areas of Kyrgyzstan. However, most of these areas are remote, very mountainous, high altitude and only have nomadic populations (largely due to the harsh climatic conditions).
The 3Tier wind map for Kyrgyzstan can be studied in comparison to the topography and it can be seen that there are actually very few areas where wind is found in accessible locations where a turbine could be installed. Four such areas were identified:
• Alay Valley
Regarding empirical data for wind power, there are few reliable and detailed sources. When reviewing the 3Tier wind charts for these four areas, it can be seen that the broad valley floors still experience average wind speeds of 3 to 5m/s and, on the higher altitude valley sides the wind averages can be considerably greater.
Balikchi (Lat 42.28, Lon 76.11, Elev. 1670m)
Anecdotally, most people in Kyrgyzstan will reference the wind in Balikchi and have reported wind as a consistent and strong force in the winter months, generally in a south-easterly (off-lake) or north-westerly (on-lake) direction being funnelled up or down the Boomskoe Gorge. The city has a few small and locally built turbines installed in private gardens (see page header), evidence that the community recognises the potential of this energy source. Away from Balikchi and around Issyk-kul the wind dissipates.
Meteorological records for the Balikchi area have been sourced from the soviet era. No evidence remains concerning the precise locations of these surveys which might have affected the results
In April, the average daily wind speed is 4.2m/s. Winds are either westerly or, more predominantly, easterly.
Song-Kul area (Lat 41.48, Lon 75.12, Elev. 3036m)
Song-Kul is inaccessible to vehicles from October through to early May and is unpopulated for this period due to the extreme cold. The NASA data above may not represent the conditions at the altitude (~3000m). There is little value in investigating the area further although it is likely that there are parts of the valley that have regular strong winds.
Torugart Valley (Lat 40.55, Lon 75.14 Elev. 2903m)
The Torugart valley is a main thoroughfare for traffic to and from China (over the Torugart pass) and there is considerable construction underway to build a better road infrastructure. However, this terrain is over 2500m and is largely unpopulated (particularly in the winter months). The NASA data above may not fully represent the conditions at the altitude (~3000m). There is also little value in investigating the area further although it is likely that there are parts of the valley that have regular strong winds.
Alay Valley (Lat 39.43 Lon 73.14 Elev. 3176m)
The Alay Valley is a broad east-west valley isolated from the rest of Kyrgyzstan to the north by the Alay Pamir Range. To the south lies the massive Eastern Pamir range (including Pik Lenin at 7134m). The reliability of electricity in this valley is often compromised due to the fragility of the grid network as it traverses the Alay Pamir from the north. As a result, there are many cases of energy poverty in the villages of this valley and there is a need for local energy solutions. The NASA data above may not represent the conditions at the altitude (~3000m). It is unlikely that hydro-electric generation is a solution as the water in this valley freezes in winter. A pilot similar to that currently being run in the Eastern Pamirs would be a likely approach for this area. The objective of a pilot should be to find the locations in the valley that receive the best wind over the year.
Meteorological records for the Alay Valley have been sourced from the soviet era. No evidence remains concerning the precise locations of these surveys which might have affected the results. Sary Tash lies slightly protected under the lee of the Alay Range which might account for discrepancies between the 3Tier, NASA and Soviet era results.
In July, temperatures are warmer (+14C) on the western parts of the valley floor and the average daily wind speed for that month is 2.8m/s. Winds in the Eastern Pamirs are low during the summer months so this recording should not be considered representative and the NASA data is likely to be more reliable.
In October, daily average wind speeds are recorded as 2.7m/s. The wind is predominantly south to south-easterly and is channelled over the passes and down the valleys between the high peaks of the Eastern Pamirs Range.
In January, temperatures are below freezing (~minus15C) along the valley floor and snow is persistent the winter months of the year. The average daily wind speed is 1.7m/s, however, January is generally a quiet month for wind in the Eastern Pamirs and this will have an impact on the average wind speed in the Alay Valley recorded.
Hydropower must remain as the strategic focus for Kyrgyzstan electricity generation, at least for the next twenty years whilst the situation regarding glacial melting in the Tien Shan becomes clearer. However, this report concludes that there is a significant wind resource in the Balikchi area that should be investigated further. As there are no HPP initiatives in the Issyk-kol area, and the cost of maintaining a grid network up to the lake is significant, it would also seem a potentially cost effective means of increasing Kyrgyzstan’s installed electricity generating capacity. Whilst there is much less evidence of energy poverty in the majority of Kyrgyzstan, there is a huge opportunity to diffuse the current political tensions in Central Asia by finding and exploiting other alternative energy solutions rather than risking a strategy of continued expansion of hydropower.
This reconnaissance has revealed:
1. A latent, although not empirically proven, capacity in the Balikchi area for wind energy over most of the year and, particularly, during the winter months.
2. A history of wind energy being successfully utilised, even with old technologies.
3. A possible source of wind power renewable energy in the Alay Valley, which could potential address energy poverty issues of that region.
All of the above points to wind power as an alternative energy solution. However, due to the variability of the data that exists, this reconnaissance also prompts the need for further investigation of wind energy potential and more trials working with the Kyrgyz authorities and local communities.
It is recommended that the proposed trials above should be conducted in a scientific, methodical and project managed manner. These proposed trials will be the subject of a Project Initiation Document (PID) that will be published by etc4CA at the end of 2011. This PID will also make recommendations regarding the solution technologies, sourcing, installation approach, configuration options and servicing/maintenance arrangements. It is believed that installation of pilot turbines could potentially commence in spring 2013, assuming that funding applications are successful.
– Kyrgyzstan wind mapping from the Soviet era
The following has been sourced from records of former Soviet era meteorological mapping of Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately the reference source for this information is unavailable.