Oct. 23, 2015

Zhomart Mominbayev


Zhomart Mominbayev

General Director, Samruk-Green Energy

"Kazakhstan will attain 10% by 2030 because our President and the government are fully behind the green economy."


Zhomart Mominbayev joined Samruk-Green Energy in March 2012 as General Director. He has been primarily responsible for improving the performance of the company and its related entities, while also interacting with the state agencies that overlook Samruk-Green Energy’s operations. He is also advisor to the Chairman of the Board at Samruk Energy.

Can you tell us about some of Samruk-Green Energy's recent projects?

The 2MW solar power plant (SPP) in Kapchagay city was the first pilot project in renewables on that scale. It was important for us to have experience in designing, construction, and operating a such project. There were two stages; the execution of a feasibility study and detailed design. Both of these were done by local engineering and design companies, which was beneficial not just for Samruk-Energy, but also for everyone involved. Local construction and operating companies also had an important part to play. Currently, the 2MW SPP is a unique and industrial place that can be visited by university and school students who want to work with physics and mathematics. When we were constructing the pilot plant, we initially wanted to check its cost effectiveness to see how it would work in reality compared to the results of our feasibility studies. The SPP was actually launched for commercial electricity generation in October 2014, and from then on we began to generate information regarding the station.

To what extent has the plant project played a role in sparking the country's interest in renewable sources?

If you look at the other companies in the renewable market, you will see the 50MW solar power plant being run at Burnoye Solar-1 and the 45MW wind power plant being run by First wind power plant LTD. First, the solar station is a good example for Samruk-Green Energy, as we are teaching and supporting professionals for renewable energy projects. On the other side of Kazakhstan, you find some regions—especially in the south and west—which have the budget to finance 1MW of solar power plants. The state authorities that are presenting tenders come to our 2MW station to learn how to avoid mistakes on the design, construction, and operation of the plant. We show them how to optimize the time and resources necessary for the future development of solar plants. There is also news about the energy storage systems because Samruk-Energy has an Agreement on Strategic Partnership with the American company Primus Power. Primus Power is based in California and uses Zinc-Bromide technology for industrial purposes. Flow technology is for batteries, and these materials can be developed in Kazakhstan. We have an agreement with Primus Power to use our 2MW SPP for testing. We also defined a place for the installation of a new device, which will be brought in from the US at the end of this year, so we can test and compare in real life situations. This is a new market, and we are going to be the first company in Eurasia to test this technology.

How will Samruk-Green Energy help to achieve the target growth of renewable energy dependence in Kazakhstan from less than 1% today to 10% by 2030?

Kazakhstan will attain 10% by 2030 because our President and the government are fully behind the green economy. The aim is to reach 3% by 2020, 10% by 2030, and up to 50% by 2050 out of all consumed electricity in the county. This is achievable, as right now for our 2020 goal we have 3% regeneration of total consumption of electricity for renewables. We send our projects to our system operator for approval, and they maintain the stability of our national grid. It is encouraging that green energy is growing in popularity, and there are companies and resources yet to develop it, along with support from financial institution such as EBRD. In addition to these projects, we need to ensure the stability of the national grid because it will increase the capability of renewables, as they depend on wind, sun, and other uncontrollable factors.

Do you expect that Expo 2017 will substantially affect international awareness of Kazakhstan's potential for renewables?

For years, we have been generating experience and education regarding power and technology. The year 2017 will be the point when everything we have generated will reach the next level. Kazakhstani companies will then be able to compete in the world market for solar energy, and they will be ready to start to compete with the major global brands or develop bilateral agreements between Kazakhstan and other countries to exchange technologies.

How important is it to continue attracting foreign companies and partner with multinational institutions to develop solar opportunities?

Financial institutions like EBRD have smart money and good terms for loans. For example, we signed a loan agreement with ERBD last year, with 20% of the amount from the clean technology fund (CTF). It gave us a 1.5% interest rate for 20 years. Approximately 80% was in tenge, with a very good interest rate. It was mandated that the feasibility study be rechecked by an international engineering team, so that the impact on the environment could be proved by international ecological consulting companies. This means it brought more to the project—not only money, but also the know-how to make the project even more stable and with increased long-term efficiency.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

My expectation is that the current construction work will be finished on time and forge a legacy for Kazakhstan. These developments will have a meaningful impact on the local population in terms of generating demand for roads, buildings, and culture. The Expo will be held to high standards and, thanks to this exhibition, we will have some internal resources and external support from the consulting, finance, and engineering companies to develop the correct projects for the future. We plan to increase output up to 100MW, and by 2017 we hope to have a 50MW solar power plant for electricity generation.