THE GREEN AGE

Kazakhstan 2016 | ENERGY & INDUSTRY | FOCUS: GREEN ENERGY

The use of renewable energy has become an important and essential development in finding energy solutions for the future. With substantial wind and water resources, Kazakhstan has all the potential in its hands.

What is the alternative to oil in Kazakhstan, and what will come to replace the country's oil and gas industry? These are the main plural when talking about green energy in Kazakhstan. The topic of alternative energy sources is becoming increasingly relevant. The threat of environmental disasters and the increase in global temperatures due to carbon emissions has forced the international community to undertake a large-scale restructuring of the world's energy infrastructure and national economies. The RES Law was signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev on July 4, 2009 in order to improve energy efficiency and promote green energy. Improving energy efficiency is a very important issue for the economy of Kazakhstan. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country's unit GDP for energy intensity remains high in comparison to other countries.

Kazakhstan has committed itself to reducing its emissions by 15% relative to 1992 levels. This goal will be difficult to achieve, and will only be met by reducing the economy's energy intensity. Thus, the role of renewable energy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be essential.

For the upcoming World Expo 2017, which will be hosted in the capital Astana, the government plans to use the theme of "Future Energy" to showcase a number of large-scale projects that will generate electricity from renewable energy sources. Since 2015, all energy production facilities in and around Astana have been built to generate over 500MW. Two-thirds of proposed facilities are related to generating wind energy. In the long term, wind energy has the greatest potential for the Central Asian country. Experts estimate its energy potential is comparatively huge, at 1 trillion kWh per year. Wind energy produced from these new plants will be used in part to power the upcoming World Exhibition, which itself is devoted to renewables. The electricity for the pavilions that will house the Expo will be generated by the Yereimentau station, which in producing just 45MW, will be able to save some 60 tons of coal from being burned per year.

In terms hydropower, the country is filled to the brim with possibility—according to some studies, Kazakhstan's hydropower potential is estimated to be some 170 billion kWh per year, with it being technically feasible to implement 62 billion kWh in the short term. At the moment, the share of hydroelectric power in generating Kazakhstan's energy is only about 12.3%. It is indeed a promising start, but it is a figure far behind those of developed countries. Hydroelectric power plants are concentrated mainly in the east in and around the Altay Mountains—with power plants such as Bukhtarma, Shulbinskaya, and Ust-Kamenogorsk—and in the south in Kapchagai. Together, these power plants produce nearly all of the country's hydropower, providing 10% of Kazakhstan's energy demands. Throughout the world, hydropower energy is becoming more actively pursued, with some of the most developed hydropower sectors already in place in developing countries, such as Brazil, India, Ethiopia, and especially China, which is already recognized as the global leader in hydropower.
Kazakhstan supports and encourages energy producers to shift focus to using renewable energy sources. To encourage development of renewables, the Kazakh government has offered fixed, feed-in tariff assistance, which includes preferential conditions for transporting electricity.

Kazakhstan has great opportunities and enormous potential for the development of its renewable energy resources, as it houses scores of potential energy. However, further developing the sector will require significant investment, as well as specialized knowledge. The introduction and development of renewable energy can, the government hopes, lead to worthwhile economic growth of the country as well as energy stability.