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imageTASHKENT: Uzbekistan will be the first Central Asian country to build a solar power plant in a bid to develop clean energy in the region, the head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Friday.

"Earlier this week ADB's board of directors approved a loan of more than $110 million to finance construction of the facility," bank president Takehiko Nakao said.

Speaking at a forum in the capital Tashkent, Nakao said the project would be "the largest in Central Asia and one of the largest in the world."

The 100-megawatt plant will be built by state energy company Uzbekenergo across 400 hectares in the Samarkand region.

The total cost of the project is estimated at more than $300 million.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that the country was planning to build several more plants with six regions currently under study with ADB experts.

With 320 days of sunshine per year, Uzbekistan's geography and climate conditions are favourable for solar power.

In 2012, the country and ADB opened an international solar energy research facility in Tashkent which the Central Asian country hopes would eventually enable it to become a solar technology exporter.

Next year Uzbekistan, with the help of Chinese companies, is planning production of solar panels and collectors.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

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