It’s been a year of historic change in Kazakhstan with President Kassym Jomart-Tokayev initiating a wave of democratic reforms in the country to create a more free and fair society. Amongst these changes are fundamental reforms to the system of government, creating more transparency and accountability, electoral reforms, as well as reforms in nearly all other areas of life – including the environment and renewable energy sources (RES).
Tokayev’s green-economy plan
Kazakhstan has laid out its ambitious “2050 Green Economy Plan” as well as the 2060 Carbon Neutral Statement, a commitment to the 2030 Global Climate Agenda. In 2013, Kazakhstan adopted a plan to transition to a green economy and in 2016, Kazakhstan signed the Paris Agreement pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Indeed, despite its resource-rich terrain and its access to fossil fuels, Kazakhstan has long been developing RES to help alleviate the energy challenges of our time, enshrined in the legislation of Kazakhstan since 2009. As Kazakhstan readies for a future sizable increase in the use of energy, the government has already begun projects to establish more sustainable, earth-friendly solutions. In October 2022, President Tokayev emphasized the importance of increasing RES, noting that several projects are being developed in the Almaty region, including a wind farm in the Shelek corridor, a hydropower plant in the Raiymbek district, and the Bartogai hydropower plant in Yenbekshikazakh district.
In the aftermath of Kazakhstan’s compelling steps towards decarbonization, the World Bank has also shown its support, “We are ready to help the government to green the economy through technical advice and investments across sectors,” stated World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Anna Bjerde. With the current global instability in the energy market, there’s never been more important than now to innovate in the energy sector.
142 renewable energy facilities
Already, there are 142 renewable energy facilities in Kazakhstan, with an installed capacity of 2332 MW. There are also 48 new energy projects on the agenda for 2025, including 13 hydroelectric power plants, 34 wind turbines, and 12 solar stations. As part of the
implementation of these projects, 350 billion tenges will be invested in the technology, an additional 2.5 billion kWh of green energy will be generated, and over 2,000 temporary and 400 permanent jobs will be created.
Additionally, Kazakhstan will be rolling out 10 new renewable energy facilities shortly, with a total capacity of 290.6 MW. Estimates state that by 2025, the national share of renewable energy will be 6%, 15% in 2030, and up to 50% in 2050.
The evidence from recent years also indicates that these goals are by no means a longshot. At the end of 2021, the volume of electricity generated by renewable energy facilities amounted to 3.69% of the total electricity production, which is a 30% increase compared to the same period in 2020. By the end of the first half of 2022, the volume of electricity generated by renewable energy facilities amounted to 4.24% of the total electricity production, which is a 17% increase compared to the same period in 2021.
Additionally, experts estimate that there is a 920 billion kW hour per year potential from wind energy, 62 billion kW hour from hydro, and massive potential for solar energy in the southern regions of Kazakhstan which receive 2,500–3,000 hours of sunshine per year. In short, there’s no limit to Kazakhstan’s potential for RES.
Attracting investments to new technologies
Beyond projects already commissioned, Kazakhstan is doing everything possible to attract investment and new technologies. The Ministry of Energy has also announced plans to initiate a new renewable energy auction, to be held annually, and conduct special RES auctions for electricity storage.
The international auctions for 2018-2021 were held in electronic format for renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 1,710 MW. 196 companies from 12 countries took part in the auction: Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Turkey, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Italy, UAE, Netherlands, Malaysia, and Spain. This year, the auction is expected to take place from November 3-29, with the total installed capacity put up for auction being 690 MW.
These auctions made transparency in the process of selecting projects and investors possible, and, on the other hand, enabled more efficient technologies and projects that minimized the impact on tariffs for end consumers from the commissioning of renewable energy facilities.
$613million RES projects
Kazakhstan has succeeded in signing several critical agreements and memorandums with international financial institutions, to the tune of approximately $613 million to advance these RES projects. Investors from 10 countries of the world, as well as large financial
institutions such as the EBRD, ADB, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,
and DBK, are currently working in Kazakhstan’s green energy sector. Additionally, large companies such as Eni, TotalEren, ACWA Power, Masdar, and Havel, who have already implemented projects in Kazakhstan in the past, have plans to further develop
renewable energy projects and have invested in the sector.
While Kazakhstan’s efforts for RES have already seen positive results, the Ministry of Energy together with interested parties will continue to promote RES through the elaboration of technical requirements for RES projects using the electricity storage system, improving the mechanism for the development of small-scale RES, regulating the mechanism for concluding bilateral contracts between RES and consumers (including miners), and providing incentive mechanisms for large hydroelectric power.
Together, these steps and cutting-edge new technologies for RES can alleviate pressures on Kazakhstan’s existing electricity grid, and assist in Kazakhstan meeting its green energy goals in the international community.