The Uzbekistan Government is reportedly planning to build the country’s first commercial nuclear reactor, which is the latest of several reforms aimed at boosting the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and developing its economy.

According to the Financial Times report, the facility would be the only nuclear project in Central Asia post-decommissioning of nuclear reactors in Kazakhstan in the late 1990s.

Last October, Russia and Uzbekistan started initial works for the first Uzbek nuclear power plant, which according to Moscow is estimated to amount to $11bn. It will be a two-block, 2.4GW plant.

“Today, this is one of the cleanest, ecologically safest sources of power, as well as the cheapest one after hydropower.”

The Uzbek nuclear energy agency Uzatom and strategic partner Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom plan to start construction on the first of two reactors in 2022, with plans to bring it on-line in late-2028.

Work on the second reactor will begin 18 months later.

Uzatom head Jurabek Mirzamakhmudov was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “We will be joining the club of countries with the peaceful use of nuclear energy. That is an elite club. This is a whole new level, different type of relationships, new technologies, science and education development.”

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Uzbekistan currently depends on coal, gas, oil and hydropower sources. It may not be able to meet the increasing energy demand in the future, reported the FT.

Mirzamakhmudov further said: “The choice was made in favour of nuclear power given uranium availability and most importantly, economic benefits to the country. Today, this is one of the cleanest, ecologically safest sources of power, as well as the cheapest one after hydropower.”