On the progress of construction of the largest CASA-1000 project in Kyrgyzstan
The main task of CASA-1000 is to organize the export of electricity in the summer period from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Within the framework of the project, 455 km of 500 kV power transmission lines will be installed across the territory of Kyrgyzstan through its three regions - Batken, Jalal-Abad and Osh. The implementing agency of the project is the National Power Grid of Kyrgyzstan OJSC (NPGK). The contractor that is directly involved in the construction of power transmission lines in Kyrgyzstan is the MITAS company (Turkey).
“The Turkish contractor was selected through an international tender. Together with him, 14 more companies from different countries competed for the right to implement the CASA-1000 project in the republic. However, the Turkish company offered the lowest price”, NPGK explained.
This was possible, among other things, due to the fact that the company is engaged not only in the construction of power facilities, but is also one of the largest producers of steel lattice towers in Europe with production capacity of up to 200 thousand tons of towers per year.
In Kyrgyzstan, the implementation of the CASA-1000 project is divided into two lots. The first lot is the construction of power transmission line on the section from the city of Batken to the border with Tajikistan. In total, the length of the power transmission lines in this area is 126 km, which will be supported by 344 towers. The second lot is the construction of power transmission line from the Datka substation to a site in the Batken region. The length is approximately 329 km of lines on 897 towers. Thus, within the framework of two contracts, the contractor must install 455 kilometers of overhead lines, with more than 1.2 thousand towers.
On April 3, 2021, the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov laid a capsule in the first tower foundation of high-voltage power transmission line within the framework of the CASA-1000 project in the village of Kara-Bulak, Batken region.
“CASA-1000 opens a new page in the field of energy sector development and will contribute to the socio-economic recovery of the countries of Central and South Asia as a whole. The main benefit for Kyrgyzstan in its implementation will be an increase in export potential and attraction of additional investment for the construction of new facilities”, the head of state noted.
The work began in Batken oblast. The supervision over the construction progress and the fulfillment of the obligations assumed by the contractor is carried out by the NPGK project implementation group.
“We monitor the progress of work, the execution of the contract according to the schedule. In addition, an engaged customer engineer from the consulting company MONENKO (Iran) is constantly at the construction site. He monitors compliance with all technical standards and regulations. The engineer regularly sends us reports on the work done. We have up-to-date information about the ongoing construction of facilities at the sites, ”says Rustanbek Raimkulov, head of the project implementation group at NPGK.
According to him, at present, worker’s camps have been set up in the region, where all the materials and equipment necessary for the construction of power lines are delivered. At the site, work began on pouring the foundations of the 500 kV overhead line.
“CASA-1000 is a multi-phase project, and until its completion the company will operate in parallel along the entire section of the power transmission line. The work consists of three main stages. The first is the construction of foundations, the second is the installation of towers and the third is the suspension of wires. As soon as they finish work on the foundation in Batken region, they will move to Osh and Jalal-Abad regions to carry out the same work. At this time, towers will be erected in the Batken region, and, accordingly, work on the suspension of wires will begin, ”Rustanbek Raimkulov said.
The contractor manufactures the structure for the towers in its own factory in Turkey. It is imported directly to Kyrgyzstan. Accompanying materials such as wires and fittings are purchased from the best manufacturers on the market.
R. Raimkulov also added that 50% or more of all workers involved in the construction of power transmission lines are local residents. The main forces are focused at construction of temporary roads along which special equipment will move.
“We are involved in contracts all over the world, being one of the main players in the market of this area. The company was founded in 1955, our portfolio includes a large number of successfully implemented energy projects similar to CASA-1000. As an example, I can cite a project that we were building in Iraq. Its cost is close to the amount of the current tender”, says Mustafa Alkan, head of the project in Kyrgyzstan from MITAS.
Still, the CASA-1000 project, according to Mustafa Alkan, has its own uniqueness, it differs from others because the infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan is part of an even larger project, which includes 4 countries and, accordingly, the same number of contractors. For the final use of the power transmission line, it is necessary that it be completed in other countries. Thus, CASA-1000 is one of the largest power transmission line construction projects in the world.
Note that, according to the environmental impact assessment, CASA-1000, it is the impact on land plots that is called the most significant.
“Before starting work, we assess the fertility of the soil and, if confirmed, remove up to 30 centimeters of the soil layer, which is taken for storage in special cavaliers. After the completion of the work, it will be returned back to preserve land resources”, emphasizes the environmental consultant of the contracting organization Nazira Abdylasova.
It is important to say that environmental analysis formed the basis for future construction. The contracting company took into account all the recommendations of environmentalists and took a number of measures to implement them.
“Prior to the start of the project, a framework document on environmental protective measures was prepared. Also, Ecopartner LLC has developed environmental impact assessment. It received a positive opinion from the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry of the Kyrgyz Republic and the World Bank, which is the main donor of CASA-1000. This document includes all preventive measures in order to avoid possible negative consequences of the project”, said Meerim Kerimbekova, consultant, ecologist of the project implementation group at NPGK.
She added that virtually all of the environmental impact of CASA-1000 is temporary.
“The project to minimize the consequences includes many aspects. Land reclamation, as my colleague has already said. But in addition, the power transmission line will pass through the territory where two species of the Red Book tulip and Acantolimona grow. To avoid these places, the contractor moved the power transmission towers several times, but where this could not be done, we will replant vegetation. Measures have also been taken to protect migratory birds. In certain places on the migration route of birds, they will encounter power transmission lines, so that they do not interfere with them, the company will consider installing safe areas on poles where they can rest during the flight”, Meerim Kerimbekova said.
And this is only part of the measures taken to reduce the impact on nature. It is important to say that all environmental measures are quite costly. At the same time, all the costs of compliance with them are fully borne by the contractor and customer.
As for the safety of residents of nearby villages, ecologists here point out that power lines do not pose a threat to human health. There are a number of world and national standards that determine what distance from power lines to residential buildings is the most comfortable for people.
At the same time, the implementation of work and being close to power lines closer than this distance also does not harm a person. But living in close proximity is not always recommended. Where the construction line passed through residential buildings or in the immediate vicinity, they are bought out.
Note that ecologists are involved in the construction of power lines at all stages. A full-time specialist is constantly at the construction site and monitors compliance with all standards. And all the technical specifications for the project indicate that the company has the right to use only modern technology. The peculiarities of today's technologies are safety and maximum environmental friendliness of work. It is even prescribed what quality of fuels and lubricants should be. This is done to reduce emissions into the environment.
In fact, the project itself does not have a large negative impact on the environment.
The completion of the construction of a part of the power transmission line in the territory of Kyrgyzstan is approximately 24 months from the date of commencement of work. The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, had an impact on the construction progress, especially in 2020, at the very beginning of work. However, according to the contract with the contractual entity, the countdown begins from the start of construction, which was given in February of this year in the Batken region.
It should be noted that in parallel with construction work, the CASA-1000 Local Community Support Project (LCSP) is being implemented, which is based on the involvement of target villages residents in planning, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of investment at the local level, as well as on capacity building activities. The CASA-1000 LCSP is implemented by the Community Development and Investment Agency of the Kyrgyz Republic (ARIS) in cooperation with the Aga Khan Foundation and covers 77 settlements (36 ayil aimaks and 5 cities) in Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken regions.
The total funding for the community support project is estimated at $ 11 million, of which $ 10 million was allocated by the International Development Association and $ 1 million from the Multilateral Trust Fund. The project is being implemented in three areas: improving power supply, improving social infrastructure and financing income-generating facilities.