Turkmen bid to lead the world on renewables

The former Soviet state of Turkmenistan plans to revolutionise its flagging economy by flooding the global market with cheap energy from renewable sources.

President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov has said he would like to see a wind turbine for every home, the maintenance of which will be the responsibility of the head of each household. The turbines are to be named after the Turkmen president’s family and friends.

Turkmenistan posesses the world’s fifth largest natural gas reserves and substantial oil deposits, but has been unable to take full advantage of these resources due to export problems and regional squabbles.

Niyazov has often found himself in disputes with energy-rich neighbours and appears to have plans to redress the balance by making his country the world’s largest net producer of green electricity.

State media has quoted him as saying he wants the country to be carbon neutral and meet its own energy demands by 2010, and be exporting large amounts of renewable energy soon after that.

The leadership of Turkemenistan is based on a personality cult and Niyazov’s comments are usually interpreted as official dictates.

Past Niyazov commands have included renaming the months of the year to honour himself and his mother, redefining the ages of man, introducing a $50,000 tax on any foreigner wishing to marry a Turkmeni (the tax was later dropped), banning amplified music and insisting all Turkmeni girls wear their hair in pigtails, the traditional style.

It is unclear as yet how the president-for-life’s new policy will be implemented but past successes in the country have included building the world’s largest mosque and an ice palace in the arid desert.

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