The central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan suffered electrical power outages in major cities on Tuesday (25 January), according to authorities and residents, after a major power line in Kazakhstan was disconnected.
The grids of the three ex-Soviet republics are interconnected, and via Kazakhstan are linked to the Russian power grid which they can use to cover unexpected shortages.
But Kazakhstan’s North-South power line, which links densely populated southern Kazakhstan and its two neighbours to major power stations in northern Kazakhstan and the Russian network, was disconnected on Tuesday morning due to “emergency imbalances” in the Central Asian part of the grid, grid operator KEGOC said.
The blackout caused chaos across the region for several hours, with subway trains stuck in tunnels and skiers on lifts, airports closing, district heating and tap water pumps going idle and traffic lights switching off.
Neither of the three countries reported any problems with its power stations that could have caused the imbalances.
Kazakhstan, which has previously experienced power shortages due to the influx of cryptocurrency miners, has started routinely cutting off their power supply and did so from 24 January until the end of the month, according to a document published online by one of the local miners.
Outages were reported in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty and several major southern cities close to the Uzbek and Kyrgyz borders. The airport of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, briefly stopped accepting flights.
Total blackout in #Uzbekistan. All the country is shut down. No electricity anywhere. No water. Traffic is going crazy with policemen trying to fix it. Last minutes of mobile internet probably. Ministry of Energy says the reason is a huge accident in Southern Kazakhstan.
— Nikita Makarenko (@nikmccaren) January 25, 2022
Authorities in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan said they were restarting power plants after emergency shutdowns and would initially remain disconnected from the Central Asian grid.
Centrally located in the region, Kazakhstan is a country rich in energy resources. The country was considered as politically stable until protests sparked by the increase of liquified petroleum gas, widely used as car fuel, went out of proportion in the first days of January.
(Edited by Georgi Gotev)