Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company Masdar has inaugurated Uzbekistan's 100-megawatt Nur Navoi solar plant, the country's first project to be developed on the basis of an independent power producer model.
The plant will be able to power 31,000 households and offset 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide on an annual basis, once operational, Masdar said.
The development is in line with the Central Asian country's plans to kickstart its renewable energy programme by investing $6.5 billion to add 11,500MW of new capacity over the next five years.
"In the next five years, we plan to increase our economy’s growth rate by 1.5 times and bring GDP [gross domestic product] to at least $100bn," Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan, said.
"Thousands of new industrial enterprises, both medium and large, will be launched and electricity demand is set to reach 100 billion kilowatt-hours – 30 billion more than now."
Uzbekistan has become a hotspot for renewable energy investment from key Middle East players. The country aims to deploy 5 gigawatts of solar and 3 gigawatts of wind power capacity by 2030, as it aims to meet 25 per cent of electricity needs from renewable sources by that year.
Masdar, which is owned by Mubadala Investment Company, currently operates in more than 30 countries with a total investment of about $19.9bn. It has won several tenders to provide clean energy in Uzbekistan, including one for another solar project – a 457MW photovoltaic power plant – in the Sherabad district of the Surkhandarya province in Uzbekistan.
Last year, Masdar announced the financial close on the 100MW Nur Navoi Solar Project. The Abu Dhabi company also struck a deal to develop, build and operate a 500MW wind farm in Zarafshan. In April, the company signed an agreement with Uzbekistan's government to extend the capacity of the project to up to 1.5 gigawatts, making it the largest in Central Asia.
"Renewable energy will deliver a cleaner and more sustainable future for Uzbekistan, and enable it to contribute to global action on climate change," said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and chairman of Masdar.
"This project, and the other solar and wind projects Masdar is building across Uzbekistan, will also power a new phase of industrial growth and provide rewarding careers for thousands of Uzbek people," said Dr Al Jaber, Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.