Construction work on what is set to be the world’s tallest dam is underway in Tajikistan.

The country’s president, Emomali Rahmon, was at the inauguration event, which saw construction firm Salini Impregilo commence the diversion work on the Vahksh River.

Once the river has been rerouted, Salini will begin the foundation work on the 335 m dam.

Claudio Lautizi, General Manager International Operations for Salini Impregilo, said, “The diversion of the Vakhsh River was done by directing it towards tunnels on the left side of the mountain to have its waters flow into them, facilitating efforts to dry the area where the dam’s foundations will be built.”

While the dam has been a major source of political conflict between Tajikistan and its downstream neighbour, Uzbekistan, the Tajik government insists the project has been undertaken in response to a global shift towards a green economy, based on the use of renewable energy. It claims the hydropower plant, once in commission, will allow for the reduction in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions.

When completed, the US$ 3.9 billion Rogun facility will deliver 3.6 GW of power annually. Although phase one completion is not anticipated until April 2019, the first of its six turbines is expected to be producing electricity by the end of 2018.

All six turbines at Rogun are expected to be online by 2026, by which time more than 61 million m3 of material will have been used in the plant’s creation.

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