Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Solar Energy in Uzbekistan

solar panels uzbek desert
This month the Uzbek government and the Asian Development Bank jointly inaugurated a new solar energy research facility that will eventually enable Uzbekistan to become an international knowledge hub and solar technology exporter.

It is envisioned that the International Solar Energy Institute will become a source of expertise for solar energy education, training and technology.

The potential for solar energy in Central Asia was also recognized in Soviet times. In 1965 the Uzbek Academy of Sciences began publishing the journal Geliotekhnika (Applied Solar Energy), the Soviet Union's only scientific publication devoted to solar energy. The quarterly publication's topics covered  solar radiation, photovoltaics and solar materials to direct conversion of solar energy into electrical power.  

Geliotekhnika is still published today in Russian and English. It places a strong emphasis on applications such as solar devices for home and industrial uses, solar heating and cooling systems, solar power systems and units, and agricultural uses of solar energy.

tashkent solar furnace uzbekistan
View of the solar furnace, Tashkent
In 1981 a gigantic solar furnace was opened in Uzbekistan, about 45 kms from Tashkent. Solar furnaces use a curved mirror, or an array of mirrors, acting as a parabolic reflector to concentrate light towards a focal point which may reach temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius.

The heat produced is very clean with no pollutants. There are a variety of uses for this energy, such as hydrogen fuel production, foundry applications and high temperature materials testing.

You can view some extraordinary photos of the facility at the English Russia blog, along with a brief description of how the solar furnace works. Visits to the solar furnace can be arranged. Special approval by the Director has to be organized. Please contact me if you are interested.

Given the energy needs of Central Asia, harnessing solar energy to fuel economic development is no longer simply an option - it is a necessity.