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Turkmenistan is estimated to possess the world's fifth-largest natural gas reserves and substantial oil resources. Turkmenistan’s government estimated its onshore hydrocarbon reserves to be 21 billion tons of oil and an astounding 25 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Even better, Turkmen Caspian offshore reserves were estimated to be 12 billion tons of oil and 5 trillion cubic meters of gas.
Despite the fact that the country’s future prosperity is apparently assured by such bounty, the country is taking tentative steps toward exploring the potential of alternative energy sources.
Turkmenistan has inexhaustible reserves of natural renewable energy with average annual intensity of solar radiation, i.e. 600 Watt per square meter. The sunshine period in Turkmenistan lasts almost all year round. In future the annual energy potential of the renewable energy sources in Turkmenistan estimated at 110 billion tons of equivalent fuel a year will be of great demand.
Turkmenistan’s climatic conditions provide an ideal setting for both solar and wind power research, as approximately 86% of the country is covered by desert. Even though Turkmenistan is self-sufficient in electrical power generation, producing about 14 billion kwh annually, a number of localities such as the Caspian islands preclude stringing centralized electric power lines but where power shortages could be addressed by local renewable energy facilities. Even though such facilities will probably be of limited interest to Western investors, they will undoubtedly be most gratefully received by the local recipients, given their potential for improving the quality of life.
A key element of the alternative energy development plans was the establishment of the Giun Scientific and Production Association, founded in 2007, one of the few institutions in the CIS countires focusing directly on renewable energy research. Besides wind power, Giun’s research projects include solar drying apparatus for farms, integrated wind and solar power complexes both for generating electricity and pumping water, the development of solar “photovoltaic” bioreactors for breeding microscopic algae, and solar furnaces for high-temperature studies.
In a development that may have a more substantive impact on the lives of Turkmen dwelling in isolated communities, specialists of the Giun (“sun” in Turkmen) Scientific and Production Association under direction of Berdimukhamedov’s Higher Council for Science and Technology have constructed a prototype wind turbine capable of generating 5RWt.
The windmill is destined for the isolated island of Gyzylsu (“Red Water” in Turkmen), two hours by boat and 11 miles southeast of Turkmenistan’s largest Caspian port, Turkmenbashi. When installed, the windmill will provide power for the island’s school, kindergarten, and a day nursery for 100 children. The windmill will also provide electric power to a solar seawater desalination system in the village, its pumps, reservoir-distillate accumulator, and ultraviolet water disinfection unit, which was designed specially for the facility
The Caspian contains nearly 50 islands, mostly small, of which 23 are in Turkmen territorial waters. The largest are Chechen, Tyuleny, Morskoi, Kulaly, Zhiloi, and Ogurchin. Gyzylsu Island measures 6.8 miles long and only 1.2 miles wide at its broadest point. The isolation and subsequent lack of electricity of Gyzylsu’s Islanders had been of concern for years, and in 2005 local authorities drew up two different electrification projects for the island’s main village. The scale was modest, as the two projects totaled an estimated $150,000 to $450,000 (Plan of actions of the community of Gyzylsu village, Turkmenbashi etrap, Ashgabat–Gyzylsu, 2005). Gyzylsu village’s inhabitants previously produced electricity from a diesel generator, which only ran four hours a day because of fuel restrictions, forcing many families to utilize their own low capacity gasoline and diesel generators after the proposed projects foundered due to a lack of financial support. Ironically, for a country blessed with such energy resources, Gyzylsu village has no natural gas lines but instead receives bottled gas delivered by sea from Turkmenbashi once a week.
While the Gyzylsu project is miniscule compared with massive Western wind power projects already up and running, it nevertheless represents a government initiative to develop the country’s alternative energy options, begun last year, when Berdimukhamedov directed the Higher Council for Science and Technology to devise a strategy to develop the country’s alternative energy options, including solar, geothermal, and wind power projects. Turkmen scientists involved in the project propose to create NGOs in residential townships and on livestock farms to develop integrated power plants, which will include solar photovoltaic stations, solar collectors, and agricultural dryers, as well as installing recycling plants.
The current administration’s commitment to renewable energy resources, while modest at present, seems sincere. The Higher Council for Science and Technology recently held its first Internet forum on renewable energy under a cooperation agreement with leading scientists in Germany, a nation recognized as a leader in the practical application of renewable energy.
Furthermore the 5th Fulbright International Conference Energy and Alternative Energy Sources was held in Ashgabat in May 2009. The forum organized by the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Science and Technology under President of Turkmenistan brought together the scientists and specialists from Turkmenistan, the United States, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.
Greeting the forum U.S. Charge d'Affaires a.i. Richard Miles noted that the forum was held in compliance with of the colicky pursued by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to provide overall support to Turkmen science. Mr. Richard Miles said that the theme under discussion was of primary importance for global community concerned about the search for alternative energy sources.
Highly appreciating Turkmenistan’s role in developing international energy cooperation Mr. Richard Miles said that the United States welcomed the Turkmen leader’s initiative on stable and reliable transit of energy to international market that was officially recognized by the UN General Assembly and stood ready to maintain and enhance mutually advantageous cooperation with Turkmenistan to address the urgent problem of energy transit.
The conference participants noted that the research in alternative source of energy raked among the priority trend in development of Turkmen science. With the active state support Turkmen specialists carried out the work to invent and apply various energy producing unit using the solar and wind energy and biological fuel in industry
The foreign experts made presentations on the advanced technologies and offered the methodology to use the solar, wind energy and biological gas. The conference participants focused on ecological advantages of the alternative energy source which had no adverse impact on the environment and noted that Turkmenistan where the natural and climatic conditions allowed using the solar and wind energy almost all year round had the profound potential for effectively using the alternative energy sources for economic purposes.
The participants were unanimous this profound potential could be used in full through international cooperation that the Ashgabat forum would considerably contribute to.
Development of Turkmenistan electric power industry, and renewable energy in particular, is the primary target of the 2nd International exhibition and scientific conference «The Basic Trends of Development of Electric Power Industry of Turkmenistan 2009» to be held in the new exhibition center of Ashgabat «Sergi Koshgi» on December 7-9, 2009.

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