The groundbreaking ceremony of Uzbekistan's first nuclear power plant was held on Friday with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev via video linkup from Tashkent.
Speaking at the ceremony, Putin said the plant would provide cheap and clean electricity to Uzbekistan and to Central Asian countries while also ensuring an increase in energy security for Uzbekistan and 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 comprising two units, each of which has 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 from gas and coal, while the remaining share is generated through hydropower. According to the Uzbek government's projections, with the launch of the plant, the country will save 3.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas on an annual basis.
Russia and Uzbekistan's prime ministers signed the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation for the construction of the plant in September.
Earlier, on Dec. 29, 2017, the countries also signed a cooperation agreement to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Reporting by Emre Gurkan Abay in Moscow
Additional reporting and writing by Firdevs Yuksel