ASHGABAT, Nov 19 (Reuters) - General Electric (GE.N) plans to build two power plants in Turkmenistan and help the desert nation develop solar energy production, state media reported on Monday.
The Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported an agreement was reached in talks between Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and GE officials in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat last week.
Turkmenistan is the largest exporter of natural gas in Central Asia, but Berdymukhamedov, who has taken steps to open up the long-isolated nation to foreign investment, said it was time to develop alternative energy sources.
“It is incredible, but in Europe, where there are so few sunny days, they are actively working on producing solar power,” Berdymukhamedov said. Turkmenistan gets about 360 sunny days a year, he added.
GE could not be reached for comment.
Turkmen citizens are entitled to free gas and electricity supplies, the legacy of Berdymukhamedov’s eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, whose death last year ended a 21-year period of political and economic isolation. (Reporting by Marat Gurt, writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Sue Thomas)