An opening ceremony was held this week for a newly modernized combined heat and power (CHP)-based district heating plant in Kyrgyzstan.

The 666 MW coal- and natural gas-fired plant supplying the capital city of Bishkek received two new 150 MW turbine generators, replacing four older models and boosting its capacity to 812 MW.

The project was financed through a $386m loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.  

According to reports in the Kyrgyz media, Aibek Kaliyev, head of the National Energy Holding Company, told journalists at the commissioning ceremony that the rest of the plant will also need to be modernized. 

The original plant was built in 1961 and had been chronically under-maintained according to a 2015 World Bank report, resulting in over 300 heat network breakdowns during the 2013 heating season and a thermal output of 39 per cent below its installed capacity.

The report also referred to the plant’s boilers as “dilapidated”.

In its recommendations, the World Bank said that despite the modernization, the “poor condition” of the Bishkek district heating network “may prevent the full utilization of the modernized CHP”.

In addition, the Bank noted that heat and electricity tariffs “are below cost recovery levels”, rendering sector companies and their assets “financially unsustainable”.