BISHKEK, February 25, 2015 – Preliminary findings and recommendations of the World Bank’s Urban Heating Assessment in the Kyrgyz Republic study, were presented today in Bishkek at a round table organized by the World Bank and chaired by Mr. Kubanychbek Turdubaev, Minister of Energy of the Kyrgyz Republic. The key objective of the event was to bring together representatives of the Government, state-owned energy companies, donor agencies and research organizations for a discussion of the challenges in the country’s heating sector.
In his welcome remarks, Minister of Energy Kubanychbek Turdubaev noted that solving the problems in the heating sector is important especially given the low water cycle and, consequently, the electricity shortages that the Kyrgyz Republic is currently experiencing. "We should acknowledge that there are indeed serious issues in the heating sector that must be urgently and competently addressed. The improvement of the sector’s performance as regards the generation and distribution of heat will directly lead to the increased performance of the electricity sector. By joining our efforts, we will be able to accomplish the urgent steps and tasks that will eventually lead to the positive changes In the country’s heating sector."
The Assessment analyzed the condition and performance of the urban heating infrastructure and building stock in Bishkek and Tokmok, two cities that are largely representative of the current heat demand and supply characteristics in the country’s urban areas. According to the study, heat generation assets operate at 20-50% of their installed capacity and heat losses often exceed 25% of the heat generated due to the old age and under maintenance of the district heating infrastructure.
Among other notable challenges, identified by the study, are the lack of sufficient funds for maintenance of and investments in modernization of the district heating system as a result of low tariffs for heat and electricity; reliance of 35% of households on cheap electricity for heating, which only aggravates winter power shortages; use of inefficient and polluting coal-fired stoves or boilers with resulting detrimental consequences for people’s health; and, finally, poor energy performance of residential and public buildings, which widens the gap between heat supply and customers’ needs.
According to Kathrin Hofer, World Bank's Energy Specialist who presented the study to the round table participants, the required investments to ensure reliable heat supply are sizable and should be carefully planned and sequenced. These include investments in rehabilitation of the district heating network, rehabilitation or replacement of the dilapidated small heat-only-boilers, replacement of inefficient electric heaters and polluting solid fuel-fired stoves with more efficient alternatives, and implementation of an energy efficiency program in the public and residential buildings. These investments should be accompanied by policy reforms, including tariff and social assistance reforms.
"Time for action is now to prevent continued decline of district heating and related increasing reliance on electric heating, and to leverage on positive developments in the gas sector", concluded Kathrin Hofer.
The feedback and proposals made during the round table discussion of the draft findings and recommendations of the assessment will be used to complete the study, the final version of which will become available in April 2015.
"Kyrgyzstan is a country that faces long and harsh winters lasting up to half a year. Therefore, access to reliable heat supply is an essential need for the Kyrgyz people and delivery of public services," said World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic Jean-Michel Happi, opening the round table. We hope this analytical work will promote dialogue among the Government, civil society, and development community on how to address the difficult situation in the Kyrgyz Republic’s heating sector."
The World Bank’s overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to reduce poverty, promote economic growth and shared prosperity. 45 percent of the World Bank’s assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants. The other 55 percent is in highly concessional credits with no interest, and only a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, while grants require no repayment. The Bank’s financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to over US$1 billion.