Turkmenistan – SECCA Key Experts (KEs) Paata Janelidze and Ilze Purina visited Turkmenistan this week and held meetings in Ashgabat and Mary with representatives of the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Education, the State Energy Institute of Turkmenistan, and the Turkmengas State Concern. Improvement of energy efficiency (EE), introduction of renewable energy (RE) sources into power generation system, possibilities for methane emissions reductions and raising public awareness on sustainable energy were the main topics of discussions.

With one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world, Turkmenistan relies heavily on this resource as it covers most of the country’s energy needs, as well as its exports. Low tariffs for electricity and natural gas led to low awareness on EE. As a result, the country was ranked among top-5 most energy-intensive economies in the world in 2019.

At the same time, the country has estimated total 666 GW potential in RE. The greatest share of this potential is with the solar energy estimated at 655 GW, followed by wind and hydropower. The development of this sector, along with reduction of methane emissions (from energy, agriculture and wastes) would significantly contribute to the environmental protection and energy supply, as well as fulfilment of the country’s climate targets, i.e. achieving zero growth of greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2030, and significant reductions of emissions in the longer term.

During the visit’s first day, the project experts met with the specialists of the Ministry of Energy in Ashgabat to explore cooperation in the fields of EE and RE. They discussed the SECCA work plan for Turkmenistan, preparations for the forthcoming EU Sustainable Energy Days (SEDs) in Turkmenistan, potential technical assistance from the project, and support in drafting legal and regulatory documents.

The project experts also met with representatives of the Ministry of Education to plan out identification of the most energy efficient school of the Ashgabat city and conducting activities with schoolchildren to raise awareness on sustainable energy among the school teachers, students, parents, and the general public.

The project team spent the subsequent two days in Mary, where, Mr Janelidze, Ms Purina and Ms Jemal Durdykova, expert of the UNDP project “Sustainable Cities in Turkmenistan: Integrated Green Urban Development in Ashgabat and Avaza” met the management of the State Energy Institute (Institute) and the Scientific-Production Centre under the Institute. Discussions covered the Institute’s activities, including green hydrogen initiatives, the need for SECCA’s technical assistance, and the SEDs programme. The SECCA KEs and the UNDP expert also addressed approximately 150 senior students from the Institute, delivering presentations integrated energy and climate planning, RE/EE project cycle, climate finance, and on municipal solid waste-to-energy projects. The Institute specialists, in turn, demonstrated their pilot energy projects.

The next day, the technical workshop “Study of international experience in development of regulatory legal acts and regulatory and technical documents in the field of energy saving and EE” was jointly organised with the UNDP project for the teachers and professors of the Institute. SECCA presented on two topics: (i) Renewable Energy in Central Asia: Possible Small and Medium Scale Solutions; (ii) Experience of holding Sustainable Energy Days in Central Asia.

Upon returning to Ashgabat, the team met with the Turkmengas State Concern to discuss Turkmenistan’s accession to the Global Methane Pledge, which is on the country’s political agenda, and explored possible solutions to address the issue of the Darvaza crater.

On the final day of the visit, the team reconvened with the Ministry of Energy to inform on the visit’s outcomes. In the afternoon, SECCA participated in the 6th meeting of the Development Partners Climate Group, co-organised by the UNDP and the British Embassy, presenting its activities in Turkmenistan.

Recognizing that the Turkmen Government has undertaken first important steps towards transition to a more sustainable energy system, now is the prime moment for the key stakeholders, both national and international, to act and step up cooperation. Turkmenistan already adopted the Law on Renewable Energy Sources in 2021 with a focus on development of RE and provision of major incentives for RE projects, whereas a new Law on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving is currently under consideration of the Parliament of Turkmenistan. Moreover, the Government intends to continue exploring green and blue hydrogen production possibilities in the country. The European Union welcomes these initiatives and stands ready, through its SECCA project, to support Turkmenistan’s aspirations and targets on the path to sustainable energy transition and sustainable development.

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