Bishkek power station
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Bishkek power station (Russian: Бишкекская ТЭЦ, ТЭЦ г. Бишкек) is a 812-megawatt (MW) coal plant in Kyrgyzstan.
The photo below shows the plant in Bishkek.
Background on Plant
Built beginning in 1961, the original Bishkek power station produces heat, hot water, and electricity. The plant is the largest electricity provider in the north of the country and satisfies 100% of Bishkek's electricity demand and 15% of the country's demand.  The plant also provides heating and hot water to 2350 apartment complexes and at least 1840 private homes, in total serving more than 112,000 customers.
The power station is mostly fired by coal, with gas and fuel oil used as the lighting fuel.
Unit Capacity Uncertainty
The initial plant included units ranging from 25 to 100 MW, for a total of 666 MW. In 2000, a new unit with 90MW was commissioned and in 2017, 300MW of capacity was added (see below). 4 older units totalling about 220MW were retired with the commissioning of the new units in 2017.
The website of Power Stations JSC (Elektricheskiye Stantsii), the owner of the plant, reports the plant's capacity at 812 MW with 9 turbine units and 18 boilers, after modernization completed in 2017. IEA report on the energy sector in Kyrgyzstan also also refers to capacity of 812MW, while a recent media article refers to capacity of 800MW.
This is about 100MW lower than previously considered. It appears that for 3 turbine units capacity has been reduced as part of modernization (Unit 10 capacity reduced from 100MW to 86MW and Unit 5 and 6 capacities reduced from 100MW to 65MW). With these adjustments, the sum of the unit capacities amounts to 826MW, slightly lower than the reported total of 812MW.
The plant mostly uses domestic coal but in summer of 2021, a Kazakh company won the tender for the supply of fuel from Kazakhstan, which imports 643 tons of coal from the Karazhyra field. This company began supplying coal in June. About 1 million tons of coal used by the plant still come from Kara-Keche coal mine in Kyrgyzstan, while the additional 650 tons are expected to come from the Kazazhyra field.
300 MW Reconstruction (Units 12 and 13)
In September 2013, the Kyrgyzstan Parliament made an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China for a US$386 million loan to finance two new 150 MW units at the plant: Units 12 and 13. The new units were constructed by Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock (TBEA). It was expected that four outdated turbine generators would be dismantled, and the two new ones would be installed in their place by 2018.
The power station failed during a cold snap in the winter in January 2018, raising questions around the quality of TBEA's work and why the contract was not put out to tender when other companies were interested in bidding.
Opposition & Controversy
The reconstruction decision generated immediate criticism from a variety of political figures.
Members of the Supervisory Board on transparency of fuel and energy complex initiative said that the Electric Stations Joint Special Committee violated the provisions of the law on public procurements by not following a procedure that allowed transparent evaluation of proposals from multiple bidders. Although the Chinese company TBEA was chosen to build the plant, critics said that China Machinery Engineering (CMEC) had actually submitted a lower offer.
According to one media report, there appeared to be "a lot of rumours" that the Minister of Energy and Industry had "private ties" with TBEA, including financial assistance in building an apartment house on the south Highway. Member of parliament Zamir Bekboyev said that the CMEC offer would have been US$30 million cheaper. According to another member of parliament, Kozhobek Ryspayev, MPs had been rushed through the decision with no time to look through documents, and were told that Export-Import Bank of China's role as financier of the project gave it control over the selection of the contractor. Electric Stations Director General Salaydin Avazov said, "If we had money for reconstruction, we would have held a tender. And since there is no money, we have agreed to the terms of Eximbank."
According to the New York Times, the public outcry and a trial in Bishkek exposed Chinese business practices and local corruption to months of intense scrutiny from Kyrgyzstan’s boisterous news media and elected politicians. A former plant director described "obscene" price inflation by TBEA, with a pair of pliers priced at US$320, and tens of millions of dollars of unexplained consulting fees. The Bishkek power plant was seen as an early test of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The outrage around the new units led to the arrest of two former prime ministers, Sapar Isakov (2017-2018) and Zhantoro Satybaldiyev (2012-2014), for their role in the corruption scandal.
Proposed Conversion to Gas
In December 2020, the acting Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Artem Novikov, instructed the relevant authorities to carry out calculations on the possibility of converting the Bishkek power station to gas. In the "Plan of Comprehensive Measures to Improve the Environmental Situation in Bishkek", the government prescribed that it is necessary to work out the issue of a phased reconstruction of boiler houses by 2022 in order to convert them to gas, use renewable energy sources such as solar collectors, thermal waters and more. However, in the fall of 2017, the modernization of the power station - on a 20-year loan from China in the sum of 386 million USD - was completed with the expectation that the station will continue operating on coal.
In January 2021, media reported that the station can be converted to gas if the company agrees on the price of fuel with Gazprom. It was reported that Electricheskiye Stantsii JSC (its parent company, National Electrical Grid of Kyrgyzstan) and Gazprom have carried out calculations related to this conversion. It was further reported at the end of January 2021 that negotiations were ongoing between the government and Gazprom regarding the price of gas supplied by Gazprom. In June 2021, it was reported that the negotiations were halted since the price offered by Gazprom was too high and the cost of running the station on gas would be nine times higher than is currently on coal. Reportedly, the alternative of supplying gas from Turkmenistan is being considered instead.
In December 2022, the plan to transition the plant to gas is mentioned in several media articles, but without any concrete plans. One of the drivers is the heavy smoke in the city of Bishkek with the power plant being one of the main contributors, in additional to many small coal-fired boiler houses dotted acrss the city. Kyrgyzstan has asked for UN funding of USD 6.7 billion to tackle the heavy pollution problem.
- Owner: Electricheskiye Stantsii JSC
- Parent company: National Electrical Grid of Kyrgyzstan
- Location: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
- Coordinates: 42.873, 74.6541 (exact)
- Status: Operating
- Capacity: 812 MW
- Type: Subcritical
- Start date: 1961-1975, Unit 11 (2000)
- Coal Type: Lignite
- Coal Source: Domestic (Kara-Keche coal mine) & Kazakh (Karazhyra field)
- Source of financing: Units 12 and 13 - Export-Import Bank of China (US$386 million)
- Permits and applications:
Articles and resources
- "Bishkek CHP Power Plant Kyrgyzstan," Global Energy Observatory, accessed September 2014
- "Coal-Fired Plants in the CIS - other countries," Power Plants Around the World, accessed September 2014
- "Правительство изучит возможность перевода Бишкекской ТЭЦ на газ". Radio Freedom (Radio Azzatyk). Dec 19, 2020. Retrieved Jan 3, 2022.
- "ТЭЦ г. Бишкек". Electricheskiye Stantsii JSC. Retrieved Jan 3, 2022.
- "Kyrgyzstan gains electricity independence," Azernews, September 3, 2015
- "Bishkek CHP (video)". energo-es.kg. September 2018. Retrieved December 2022. Check date values in:
- page 48. "IEA Kyrgyzstan 2022 Energy Sector Review" (PDF). iea.org.
- "ТЭЦ Бишкека отмечает юбилей – 60 лет". kabar.kg. September 2021.
- "Угольный след казахстанской компании на Бишкекской ТЭЦ". Radio Azattyk. Oct 21, 2021. Retrieved Dec 1, 2021.
- "China helps upgrade Bishkek Thermal Power Plant," The Times of Central Asia, Sep. 23, 2013, Archived Feb. 6, 2016
- "2014 the crucial year for Kyrgyz energy sector — PM," Times of Central Asia, September 17, 2014
- "Modernization progress of Bishkek combined heat and power plant," AKI Press, July 14, 2016
- "Destabilization in Kyrgyzstan after presidential elections possible - Atambayev," Trend News Agency, August 30, 2017
- "Modernized Kyrgyzstan district heating plant opens," Decentralized Energy, August 31, 2017
- "Kyrgyzstan: Freeze Turns to Hot Fury Over Bishkek's Power Plant Failure," Eurasia.net, January 30, 2018
- Julia Kostenko, "Modernization of Bishkek Heating and Power Plant: making gross mistake," 24.kg News Agency, January 24, 2014
- "A Power Plant Fiasco Highlights China’s Growing Clout in Central Asia," New York Times, July 9, 2019
- China finds investment in Kyrgyzstan a risky necessity, Geopolitical Intelligence Services, Apr. 11, 2019
- "ТЭЦ могут перевести на газ, если договорятся о цене топлива с «Газпромом»". 24.kg. Jan 8, 2021. Retrieved Jan 3, 2022.
- "Перевод ТЭЦ на газ. «Газпром» готов дать скидку 25 процентов". 24.kg. Jan 22, 2021. Retrieved Jan 3, 2022.
- "ТЭЦ Бишкека не переведут на газ. Власти и "Газпром" не смогли договориться". Kaktus Media. June 17, 2021. Retrieved Jan 3, 2022.
- "Смог в Бишкеке. В будущем возможен перевод ТЭЦ на газ". 24.kg. December 2022.
- "СМОГ В БИШКЕКЕ: НУЖНА ПОМОЩЬ ООН". 24.kz. December 2022.
- "Can Central Asian Cities Resolve Their Big, Ugly Smog Problems?". rferl.org. December 2022.
- "Towards Secure and Sustainable Energy Supply in Central Asia: Electricity Market Reform and Investment Protection" (PDF). 2015.