Water is currently the main source of energy in the country – more than 95% of the country’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants.
In terms of its potential hydropower resources, the Pyanj River surpasses all the rivers of Central Asia. In terms of the economic potential of hydropower resources, the Pyanj River ranks third in the CIS, after the Yenisei and the Lena Rivers. This indicator for the Pyanj River is 97.6 billion kW/h per year. It should be noted that in this indicator Pyanj River is 2.17 times ahead of the Vakhsh River (44.9 billion kW/h), which has one of the highest economic efficiency of hydropower resources in the world (note that these calculations do not include watercourses with potential less than 100 thousand kW/h).
In the structure of the total potential power of the Central Asian rivers, the share of the Pyanj River is 42.52%. In the structure of the technical hydropower resources of our macro-region, the share of Pyanj River is 51.4%.
More impressive is the indicator of specific energy saturation of the basin compared to other river basins of Central Asia: for every square kilometer of the territory – 3.67 million kW of potential hydropower resources, this indicator is the highest in the world. Per capita (87.7 thousand kW), the Pyanj River ranks second in the world in terms of potential energy resources.
In Tajikistan, the cost of production per kW/h of electricity is 0.04 USD. There is no doubt that the total cost of producing one kW/h of electricity at future hydropower plants of the Pyanj cascade will be much lower compared to the current average national level.
In other words, the use of hydropower resources of the basin is not only extremely high level of efficiency (500% profitability, if the electricity generated here is sold on the world market). In this case, we are talking about building up cleaner production from a renewable resource, which will contribute to raising the level of sustainable development not only in Tajikistan, but also in the entire Central Asian region.
Unlike the Vakhsh River, where feasibility studies were compiled throughout the cascade of not only large, but also medium hydropower plants, no such work was done for the basin. One thing is clear that there are opportunities for the construction of such large hydroelectric power stations as Pyanjskaya, Moscovskaya, Dzhumarskaya, Granitniye Vorota, Khorogskaya. The unit capacity of the Dashtijumskaya HPP should reach 4,000 MW, which is even more than the capacity of the Rogun HPP (3,600 MW), which is the largest in the Vakhsh cascade.
It should be noted that the construction of hydropower plants in the Pyanj transboundary basin has several advantages. The construction of high-altitude dams does not lead to such negative consequences as a reduction in the area of agricultural land and human settlements. Narrow canyons with stony slopes, devoid of vegetation, act as a comparative competitive advantage of this basin. Losses from resettlement are insignificant due to the low density of rural settlements in the areas of construction of HPPs in the Pyanj River.
As noted earlier, the lateral tributaries of the Pyanj River also have enormous hydropower potential. In contrast to the potential of the main channel of the river, the potential of lateral tributaries can form the basis for the implementation of import substitution policies, as well as strategies to reduce poverty in the respective mountain areas. The following data testifies to the potential of the lateral tributaries of the Pyanj River: the average annual capacity of future hydropower plants on the Yazgulem River may reach 282.3 thousand kW, and the average annual electricity generated – 2.5 billion kW/h, respectively for Vanch – 338.6 and 2.9, for Kurgovat – 312.0 and 2.7, for Pishkharv – 278.1 and 3.8, for Bartang – 964.9 and 7.3, and for the dam of Sarez Lake – 246.2 thousand kW and 2 billion kW/h.
To compare the estimated potential of the lateral tributaries of the Pyanj River, data can be given on the design capacity of the currently operating HPPs: Kairakumskaya – 126 thousand kW, Golovnaya – 210 thousand kW, Baipazinskaya – 600 thousand kW. The energy potential of the lateral tributaries of the Pyanj River in the Afghanistan part of the basin – Vakhandarya, Khandud, Shiva, Tangiob, Dzhaboy, Kufob, Obitang, Zarinob, Ravangob, Rog, Koncha, Kukcha, Zardob, Shahravon – is ranked in approximately the same range.
Due to the fact that the lateral gorges of the Pyanj River are not only deep, but also isolated from each other by high mountain ranges, it seems appropriate to create autonomous energy systems in each gorge to fully provide the economy and population with electricity.
There are no large-scale hydropower installations currently within the Pyanj Basin. The largest hydropower plant at the moment is Khorog hydropower plant, which has a capacity to generate 9 MW.
Within the Pamir region, there has been development of a significant number of small hydropower plants to address the localized lack of other energy sources. Some 21 plants have been installed, with a total capacity of some 42.6 MW.
The hydropower installations and future potential of the Basin are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Hydropower Installation and Potential of the Pyanj River Basin