Energy ministry wants to build more hydropower plants in Kazakhstan

Special correspondent of the "News" department
The ministry believes that the country will need many more hydropower plants in the near future / Photo: Shutterstock

According to Zhaslan Kassenov, head of the department for renewable sources of energy under the Ministry of Energy, Kazakhstan will need loads of small and big hydropower plants in the near future to mitigate imbalances in the work of renewable energy sources.

«About 90% of rivers across the country are small. This is why it is a good idea to build small hydropower plants in Kazakhstan. We are implementing such projects regularly. However, we will need many more small and big hydropower plants shortly as maneuverable sources of energy to keep the country’s energy system in balance,» the official said during the Energy Week Central Asia & Mongolia.

As the official noted, Kazakhstan’s hydropower potential is equal to 170 billion kilowatts per hour in total, while the technically justified potential is about 62 billion kilowatts per hour. The basins of the Irtysh, Ile, Syr Darya, Talas and Chu rivers account for the majority of this potential.

Thanks to its massive plains, Kazakhstan has great potential for wind, solar and hydro energy and is in a position to take a leading role in this sphere globally. These types of power generation are the most stable, equally spread across the country and have little impact on tariff increases for end-users,” Kassenov said.

He also highlighted that Kazakhstan’s climate with its natural corridors where wind blows at a speed of five meters per second is suitable for wind power turbines. Experts say that wind power potential in Kazakhstan is about 920 billion kilowatts per hour.

In addition, given that the southern regions of the country have 2,200 to 2,300 sunny hours per year, Kazakhstan can compete in this sphere with many other sunny countries throughout the world. The Energy Ministry believes that the Aral Sea region and the southern regions of Kazakhstan, which already suffer from a shortage of energy, are the best spots for solar power stations.

In order to let investor have more room to prepare their projects for renewable energy auctions, this year the ministry approved a five-year schedule of auctions for a power capacity of seven gigawatts in total. According to Kassenov, this schedule will let investors take their time and prepare all issues related to financing, designing and plugging new renewable sources into the national power system.

Kazakhstan has been conducting open international auctions for renewable energy since 2018. Over the period from 2018 to 2022, it conducted 54 auctions and chose 83 projects out of a range of proposals by 232 companies from 13 countries (Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Turkey, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Italy, the UAE, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Spain and Singapore). Given that the government of Kazakhstan guarantees that it will buy all the energy produced by renewable sources for 20 years (previously 15 years) with tariff rates adjusted each year, the Ministry of Energy hopes that the interest of investors in auctions will significantly grow.

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