Assessing the vulnerability of the energy sector in Tajikistan

Assessing the vulnerability of the energy sector in Tajikistan

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Date: 3rd November 2014
Author: CDKN Asia
Type: Feature
Countries: Asia, Tajikistan
Tags: energy

The energy sector is critical for Tajikistan’s economic growth and development. The power sector accounts for about 7 percent of GDP and 35 percent of public investments. Electricity is also a key input for two of the largest export commodities – aluminum and cotton—which in turn account for around 20 percent of the country’s GDP and 50 percent of exports.

Despite this, there is still a major shortage of energy supply in Tajikistan. According to a recent World Bank report about 25 percent of winter energy demand cannot be met in Tajikistan. This is caused by a combination of low hydropower output during the winter when river flows are low and high demand driven by heating needs. The electricity shortages worsened after Tajikistan power trade with neighboring countries through the Central Asia Power System (CAPS) stopped in 2009. Difficulties are also exacerbated by the dominance of hydropower, which accounts for 98 percent of energy supply, making the sector sensitive to seasonal water flow patterns related to precipitation and glacier melting. The reliance on hydropower also makes the power sector directly vulnerable to climate change. As climate change starts having a noticeable impact, there is also an indirect effect as the energy sector will compete for scarce water resources with other water intensive sectors.

Addressing energy shortages and the risks posed by a changing climate is crucial for the development of Tajikistan. A key issue of this discussion is water flow, considering that just about all energy supply is generated by hydropower. A viable solution to the energy sector risks faced by Tajikistan should be based on a cross sectoral agreement by stakeholders to ensure that all interests are considered and that there is broad appreciation of the risks and consequences of climate change and opportunities for adaptation.

To discuss the risks that climate change poses to the energy sector, and attempt to identify adaptation actions, a workshop was held in Dushanbe in June 2014, facilitated by the consultancy firm Acclimatise. The workshop engaged a wide range of stakeholders and specialists, including from the energy, agricultural and water sectors.

The workshop covered all aspects of the energy sector: demand side; power production; transmission and distribution. Risks were identified in the context of predicated changes in long-term average climatic conditions and extreme events. Risks were rated based on their likelihood of occurrence and the severity of their consequence. Of the 16 risks that were identified, 12 were rated as ‘most significant’. A key topic of discussion was how the climate affects water resources which in turn affects the energy sector.

A lack of long-term energy sector planning was identified as one of the most significant risks compromising Tajikistan’s ability to make its energy sector climate-resilient. The lack of data and institutional capacity to evaluate climate risks, and increased costs in the energy sector were also among the risks ranked as significant. Stakeholders were also concerned that increasing temperatures would raise the summer demand for agricultural irrigation and demand for cooling.

Transmission and distribution were believed to be at significant risk from more extreme events. Extreme precipitation, floods, mudflows and landslides now occur earlier in the year, causing disruption for transmission and distribution and making maintenance more difficult and expensive.

Some risks were seen as opportunities. For example, climate change could lead to lower winter heating demand as temperatures increase.

In identifying risk-mitigating actions, the work underway through the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience and other programs supported by international donors and the government were taken into account. Various options were appraised using a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) approach applying such criteria as: ‘Effectiveness at reducing risk’; ‘Sustainable’; ‘Flexible or reversible’; Cost of implementation / technical feasibility issues,;Social impact and Environmental impact.

One critical risk-mitigation area is how to mainstream a consideration of the uncertainties of climate change projections and their impacts into day-to-day planning and decision-making in the sector.. The stakeholders were introduced to new developments in the use of remotely sensed data and hazard forecasting systems. The practical example was brought from the successful application by BC Hydro, Canada (BC Hydro is British Columbia’s main supplier of electricity, with some 90 percent of its generation from hydropower plants). The company has significant hands-on experience in managing climate vulnerability and risk on the transboundary Columbia River. BC Hydro uses climate change scenarios as a tool for planning, including in the Columbia River Treaty Review process (where a joint set of climate scenarios has been agreed between U.S. and Canadian parties)

The team involved in the project are currently using the inputs gained from this workshop to develop a comprehensive review of the vulnerability of the energy sector in Tajikistan. A draft report that describes the vulnerabilities, risks and opportunities facing the energy sector as the climate changes, from now until 2030-2050 will be submitted to the Government of Tajikistan in late 2014.

CDKN and the Central Asia Energy and Water Development Program (CAEWDP) of the World Bank are partnering on a project to build the climate resilience of the energy sector in Tajikistan and Central Asia. The project includes two assessments of climate change impacts and adaptation measures that can be applied at the country-level in Tajikistan and regional level in Central Asia. 

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