Energy is a cornerstone of the Kyrgyz economy and accounts for 4 percent of GDP and 16 percent of industrial production. Kyrgyzstan possesses an installed capacity of 3,640 MW, mainly supplied through its large-scale hydropower plants (79,9 percent), Heat and Power Plants (19,7 percent) and small-scale Hydropower Plants (0,4 percent).
Since Kyrgyzstan attained independence in 1991, the energy sector has been in a state of continuous deterioration as a result of lack of investments, poor operational management, nepotism and clientelism, non-feasibility and lack of capacity. These deeply entrenched structural issues have underpinned the sector’s vulnerability and imperil a reliable and effective supply of energy to the Kyrgyz population, leading to frequent bottlenecks and power outages especially during winter months. This predicament is aggravated by a growing demand for energy, as most residential consumers, who are unable to afford imported coal, have switched to electricity for heating and cooking. This has made electricity one of the most important and vital commodities in Kyrgyzstan.
In recent years Kyrgyzstan has been subject to serious energy crisis. The energy sector’s structural deficits, when coupled with cycles of poor hydrology and changes in precipitation, can easily lead to widespread power outages with serious consequences for the local population and economy. This was already the case in the winters 2009/2010 and 2014/2015 when large parts of the Kyrgyz populations were deprived of access to electricity for hot water, lighting and heating. The World Bank estimates that power shortages such these translate into of economic losses worth US$300 million or 4.2 percent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Failure to improve the reliability of energy supply in near future will likely lead to mass protests and government upheavals, as was the case in 2010.
Unison supports the Kyrgyz government in its renewable energy, energy efficiency and governance efforts to ensure that marginalized groups of Kyrgyz society (such as rural families and low-income households) receive continuous and reliable access to energy for their daily needs. Unison’s energy activities includes the provision of grants and loans to precipitate renewable energy marketization, strengthening of the legislative and regulatory framework to pave way for innovation and green entrepreneurialism, implementation of pilot projects to demonstrate the various possibilities to combine modern technologies with local traditions, and increasing awareness and literacy among local energy consumers.
Learn more about Unison’s Sustainable Energy Programs: