For Kazakhstan, with its vast oil, gas and coal reserves, the problem of access to the cheap energy resources, generally, is not relevant. Nevertheless, the Government repeatedly states its commitment to the principles of the “green economy” as the alternative energy development of creating a completely new technological and industrial niches. This is a global trend, and, therefore, it would be short-sighted to stay away from this sphere.
As a part of the transition to “green economy” the President of Kazakhstan set a target to develop the alternative and renewable energy sources (RES), which should make at least half of the total energy consumption of the country by 2050. In this context, at the beginning of this year, the Government has adopted the Action Plan for the development of alternative and renewable energy sources in 2013–2020, according to which the renewable energy capacity should be brought up to 1040 MW by 2020. By that time, the country should have 13 wind power plants (WPP with total capacity of 793 MW), 14 hydroelectric power plants (HPP, 170 MW) and 4 solar power plants (SPP, 77 MW) brought to operation.
In general, the expected dynamic of the “green” energy development in Kazakhstan can be characterized by the following figures. In 2014 the renewable energy production should reach 1% of its total consumption, in 2020 – 3% and by 2050 – 50%.
According to the data, presented by the Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev, today’s figure is less than 0.5%. As a comparison in Iceland and Denmark the renewable energy production is 29%, in Portugal – 18%, in the Philippines – 17%, in Spain, Finland and Germany – more than 12%, Austria – 11% and in the Netherlands – more than 10%.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has large opportunities in this sphere. The Republic is on the third place in the CIS after Russia and Tajikistan for the wind energy resources. The total wind power potential of the country is estimated at about 920 billion kW / h, and in general, the renewable energy potential is reaching to 1 trillion kW / h. It is therefore quite logical that the Government is committed to make this line a priority sphere of its technological and industrial policy.
By the way, in the last ten years, the global consumption of traditional energy increased at about a quarter, while total world GDP grew by more than 40%. There is no direct correlation between these parameters, however indirectly we can talk about increasing of the energy efficiency technology use, general decrease of the overall energy consumption in industrial production and increase of the renewable energy sources use.
Another aspect, in terms of which the Government of Kazakhstan considers the development of renewable energy sources to be a social one. There are about 70 settlements (more than 16 thous. people) in the country, which are not provided with the centralized power supply. The optimal solution to this problem is seen in the combining use of renewable energy sources.
“We have already implemented a joint project with the South Korean partners “Zhasyl auyl” in Almaty oblast. There was no water and electricity in Sarybulak village for a long time. We provided solar panels, brought electricity and installed the water pump. Now electricity and drinking water is available in 16 houses. This project is a good example of how it is impossible to solve the problem of energy supply using innovative technologies.” – noted Asset Issekeshev.
As he said, in general, 25 “green” projects were implemented in Kazakhstan, though the most of renewable energy facilities should be brought to operation in the next seven years.
According to the Chairman of the Committee on RES of Kazakhstan Electricity Association (CEA) Gulbanu Pazylhairova, our country is attracting considerable interest of potential investors, especially in terms of the renewable energy, as any investor knows that chances for the speedy return on investment depend on an early financing start.
Yet there are not enough operating RES facilities in the country. The good example is the first Korday wind farm, recently constructed in Zhambyl oblast with the estimated capacity of 10 MW, as well as SEGS with the estimated capacity of 52 kW / h, commissioned in Almaty oblast.
In general, according to Ms. Pazylhairova’s data, the country has about 20 projects in different stages of coordination of tariffs, feasibility studies, land use permits, etc.
The main driving force of cooperation in the field of renewable energy sources is individual members of the business community in Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Ukraine, the USA, Germany and other countries. They are promoting their own ideas and projects in various development areas, such as the equipment production or supply, consulting services, design engineering and research studies.
According to Ms. Pazylhairova, the nature of the entrepreneurs’ requests in CEA indicates that one of the major challenges in the development of renewable energy sources in Kazakhstan is the absence or lack of market information. Investors are interested in the forecasts for prices, demand level, state infrastructure data, availability of suppliers, sale warranties, instruments of state support, administrative and legal barriers, etc. “Some of these problems could be solved, for example, by forming a pool of investors, establishing of a single information resource center for the renewable energy sources support with the relevant international status within the CIS or CFMZ. It should be noted that the potential for the international cooperation in the emerging renewable energy market in Kazakhstan is extremely large, it waits only an objective assessment and implementation”, – said the Head of the Committee on RES.
Many energetics experts believe that the current law “On the support of renewable energy sources use”, according to which the power, produced by the renewable energy facilities, should be purchased by the power supply companies, is the best solution at the initial stage of such sources use and implementation. However, according to the experts’ opinion, such guarantees are not enough to incentive the investments increase.
The practical implementation of projects is difficult because of the legislation inconsistencies. In particular, it sought to define a fixed selling price for the renewable energy facilities. In this regard, the MINT developed a new law with taking into account the international practice and current processes in our country.
This law provides a number of guarantees in terms of price, ensuring return on investment and risk coverage, expiration dates for the project established price, power purchase from the renewable energy facilities, as well as the guarantees for smooth renewable energy integration into the network. In addition, the measures of state support for renewable energy consumers are also included in this project. They should be expressed in the provision of individuals connected to the power grid with the possibility to sale the power surplus, generated by the renewable energy facilities. In turn, the remuneration for individuals, not connected to the grid (remote users), should be paid from the state budget in the amount of 50% of the acquisition cost for RES with the capacity up to 5 kW.
The question is about the electrification of 1.2 million farms and distant pastures. The Government is ready to contribute the costs for the 400 households annually on the basis that the price of the renewable energy facility installation with capacity of 5 kW for one house is KZT 4430 thous. The Prime Minister gave instructions to make amendments to the bill with the adoption of the necessary subordinate acts till the end of the first half of year.
Gulbanu Pazylhairova notes that the fixed rates introduction should become a guarantee for investors concerning the invested funds repayment and clarify the amount of the capital investment required for the separate RES facilities and types. Fixed rates will also create the possibility to form more specific profitability indicators for the renewable energy facilities financing by the banks.
With regard to innovative approaches in the implementation of renewable energy projects, the experts agree that the combined use of water, wind and sun power is the most effective way both from the technological and economical point of view. Certainly, this approach would require additional financial costs and researches. However, there are all conditions for the introduction of the combined projects in Kazakhstan.
Certainly, today the necessity of renewable energy sources developing is primarily connected with the solution of environmental problems. Any country in the world, even the most developed one, cannot cope with the emissions of greenhouse gases, soil erosion, desertification, ozone layer depletion, depletion of fresh water, disappearance of some flora and fauna species. Therefore, in the short term, the absence of viable energy alternatives may have an adverse affect in the global scale. The rapid depletion of conventional energy sources (according to some forecasts, the oil could end as early as 2050) and environmental regulations tightening will increase the cost of specific capital investments in the construction of conventional power generating capacities. As a result, even rich countries would not afford the use of traditional energy resources.
We should not forget that Kazakhstan, as a party of the Kyoto Protocol, plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15% in 2020, moreover these commitments implementation depends on the development of renewable energy sources.
In general, Kazakhstan is scheduled to enter into service 13 wind farm with the total capacity of 793 MW by 2020. The projects geography is quite diverse – Almaty, Zhambyl, Kostanai, North Kazakhstan, Akmola and Karaganda regions. The largest object should be launched in Badamsha village of Kargaly district in Aktobe region. The new wind farm capacity will reach 300 MW. This is a huge amount for Kazakhstan, though it is modest in comparison with other countries, which work with the projects of a higher level for a long time.
For example, the United States and China introduced new generation capacities of 13 GW on the basis of wind turbines last year. Japan prepares to launch the world’s largest wind farm by 2020. This farm will generate 1 GW of power, which is twice more than the production of the current leader – wind farm Greater Gabbard in Great Britain. Not only the economically developed countries are participating in this struggle for leadership, but African continent, which was considered as an outsider, as well. The wind farm of 52 MW started operation in 2012 in Ethiopia, which is one of the poorest countries. The wind power construction of 500 MW was started in South Africa.
The construction of huge new generation plants boosts the production of wind turbines and that promotes the implementation of new civil engineering technologies. This, perhaps, is even more important advantage of the “green energy”, as it creates a completely new service markets and production niche.
Kazakhstan with its small projects is likely to lose all these benefits. Despite the fact that the country has very promising technological achievements of individual enthusiasts, there is no initiatives for the large-scale series production of equipment for renewable energy industry (especially, concerning the export-oriented aspects).