Uzbekistan's current total electricity consumption per capita is just over half the global average, at 207 watts per person. The vast majority of this use, roughly 182 watts per person, comes from fossil fuel sources, with gas being the predominant form at 147 watts per person and coal following at a distant second with 31 watts per person. The contribution of low-carbon electricity is much smaller, only about 17 watts per person, nearly entirely from hydropower. Solar power's contribution is almost negligible. These lower levels of electricity generation per capita could lead to various developmental challenges, including restricted growth in industry, limited access to modern comforts, and dependence on unsustainable energy sources which contributes to environmental degradation.
Turning to ways of increasing low-carbon electricity generation in Uzbekistan, there are several successful models to learn from. For example, many countries have harnessed nuclear power to great effect. Sweden, France, and Finland, for example, each generate over 500 watts per person from nuclear energy. Slovakia, another landlocked country like Uzbekistan, generates 333 watts per person. Wind power also shows strong promise, being a leading source of electricity in Denmark, Sweden, and Ireland where it generates over 250 watts per person. As both these low-carbon energy sources have proven effective in various settings, it might be worthwhile for Uzbekistan to consider investing more in nuclear and wind power infrastructure, while learning from these countries' experiences.
Over the decades, Uzbekistan's low-carbon electricity generation from hydro sources has shown a fluctuating pattern. For example, in the late 1980s, there was a drop in hydropower generation followed by a brief rise. Similar patterns were seen in the 1990s and the early 2000s. For example, in the late 1990s, after a decrease in 1995, hydroelectric power generation saw a slightly encouraging trend with incremental but steady increases in most years. However, there were also noticeable reductions in the mid-2000s and in the last decade. These fluctuations could potentially be indicative of volatility in river flow patterns or challenges in the maintenance and upgrading of hydroelectric infrastructure. This history suggests that while hydropower can continue to play a part in Uzbekistan's power mix, it may not be reliable to provide consistent growth in low-carbon electricity generation. Thus, exploration of other sources like nuclear and wind might be key to the country's sustainable power future.