The groundbreaking ceremony for Uzbekistan's first nuclear power plant was held on Friday with the participation of the Russian and Uzbek leaders, taking part remotely from the capital Tashkent
Speaking at the ceremony alongside Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plant would provide cheap and clean electricity to Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries while also boosting the safety of energy supplies for the entire region.
The project cost is estimated at around $11 billion, and commissioning of its first unit is expected in 2028, according to Yuri Ushakov, the Russian president's aide.
Russia's State Nuclear Energy Agency Rosatom will build the plant with two units, each with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, in an area near Lake Tudakul bordering the Navoi and Bukhara regions.
According to official figures, Uzbekistan meets 85 percent of its electricity needs from gas and coal, while the remainder is generated by hydropower. According to Uzbek government projections, with the plant, the country will save 3.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.
In September Russia and Uzbekistan's prime ministers signed the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation to build the plant.
Last December, the countries also signed a agreement on using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.