TBY talks to the general directors of two companies on their contribution to modernizing the grid, sources of demand, and the role of renewables.
How would you evaluate your company’s contribution to upgrading the current grid in Kazakhstan?
MARLEN ISKAKOVA Alstom has worked extensively with KEGOC to upgrade the Kazakhstani grid. Alstom has been well known for its grid products throughout Kazakhstan after participating in the KEGOC sub-station modernization tender in 2003. Our experience is based on the delivery of high-voltage equipment financed by a combination of the EBRD and the World Bank, and that project was completed in 2006. During the execution of the first sub-station modernization project, KEGOC announced its intentions to build the first and second overhead lines of 500 kV to transport energy from the north to the south of Kazakhstan. Once again, international banks have been financing this project, and Alstom has been one of the suppliers for that project. There was also another project launched in 2006-2007 in west Kazakhstan for the delivery and construction of 500-kV overhead lines from Kostanay to Aktobe. Western Kazakhstan was supplied mainly from Russia, and KEGOC’s idea was to connect the two regions using overhead lines within Kazakhstan.
What role do you see for ABB in the unification of Kazakhstan’s power grid?
ALTAY TOIGANBAYEV We are in a position to bring leading technology to Kazakhstan’s power grid. This is very important because the Kazakhstani network is very outdated. It was built in the mid-1960s and 1970s. The government is currently undertaking a step-by-step modernization of the network, and also building new sub-stations. In that regard, we completed three substations for the Asian Games in Almaty, including the Chimbulak sub-station with gas-insulated switchgear (GIS)—perfect for the high altitude that the sub-station operates at. The government is building new sub-stations because the population is growing, and this is driving demand, and we see this as a natural development. On the other hand, we also offer energy-saving systems, such as variable speed drives and packages for wind power. Wind power has become a hot topic here in Astana. There is plenty of wind-generating potential in this country, and projects are already being developed to harness it.
How do you think the increase in demand for power should be met, and what opportunities are there in this field?
MI Coal is an important resource and there should be more investment in its utilization in the near future. There are plans to build a nuclear station on Lake Balkhash. There is also a lot of potential in hydropower plants, and there are a few in eastern Kazakhstan already. The first step is to invest in and modernize the existing infrastructure, and then to build additional power plants. There exists a lot of opportunity for foreign investors in the future development of the sector, and our target is to win as many project bids as possible, in line with our capacity.
What is your relationship with your clients from the different sectors?
AT Oil and gas customers are very specific. It’s an interesting sector to work in, and the buying patterns of these customers reflect that they are very tough people to please. They have strict terms and conditions and strong safety rules they must adhere to. On the other hand, they are very rewarding customers because they need high-quality equipment, reliability, and functionality. ABB is able to deliver these qualities to its clients. As a result, here in Kazakhstan we have quite a bit of an edge over our competition, because local companies are not as strong in that sense. If you look at the mining sector, it’s dominated mostly by local companies. Some of them are very large companies, which is a Soviet-era legacy. We are currently working on a project with Kazakhmys to deliver a gearless mill drive. It will be the biggest in the world. To give you a sense of the size of this project, it will consist of four segments, each one weighing 220 tons that will form a huge mill to crush ore.
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