By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Kazakhstan has significant solar energy resources. The potential production of solar energy in the country is estimated at 2.5 billion kWh per year. About 70 percent of the territory of Kazakhstan is areas with predominance of sunny days in a year. The duration of sunshine here ranges from 2,800 to 3,000 hours a year.
These resources have not been widely used until recently. However, today, there is a successful cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in this area.
ADB and Kazakh company M-KAT Green have agreed on a loan in tenge equivalent to $30.5 million.
M-KAT Green special purpose entity belongs to Total Eren SA, a leading French independent power producer. The project is co-financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and is the first ADB project in Central Asia with Total Eren.
Wolfgang Pohime, ADB Investment Officer in the Private Sector, said that this project will be one of the largest in the field of solar energy in Central Asia and an important step forward, taking into account the need of Kazakhstan’s energy sector in investments to modernize outdated assets and expand capacity to meet growing electricity needs.
He noted that ADB assistance will have a demonstrative effect for other potential developers and sponsors in determining the viability of future solar energy projects.
A power plant with a capacity of 100 megawatts is already under construction in the south-east of the country, near the town of Shu in the Jambyl region. It will occupy an area of 500 hectares, and its commissioning is planned for the end of this year. ADB supported the project jointly with the EBRD, building on a successful partnership between the two organizations in financing renewable energy projects in Kazakhstan.
The power plant will help Kazakhstan meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by reducing carbon emissions. The generated electricity will be sold in accordance with the 15-year agreement on the purchase of electricity between M-KAT Green and the Financial Settlement Center of Renewable Energy which is owned by Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company (KEGOC).
The ADB report noted that coal-fired power plants account for 80 percent of the electricity produced in Kazakhstan. About 70 percent of installed capacity is considered technically obsolete, and the shortage of electricity persists, especially in the southern region.
In 2013, Kazakhstan announced a plan for transition to a green economy and an increase in the share of clean energy to 50 percent of total electricity production by 2050.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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