NUR-SULTAN – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed the government to bring the share of renewable energy in the nation’s total energy grid to 15 percent by 2030 at the May 26 meeting that reviewed the development of the energy industry in Kazakhstan, reports the Akorda press service.
While the development of renewable energy has been on the national agenda for a while, this is five percent more than the initial target of 10 percent by 2030, due to the “new realities and the current positive dynamics.”
In 2020, Kazakhstan achieved its target of three percent. Tokayev said that Kazakhstan, with its available resources, should maintain its leading position in the new energy sector in the future.
The share of local content in renewable energy projects, however, must be increased, which is now “extremely small,” according to Tokayev.
“It is necessary to learn not only to build new sparkling stations but also to develop local production, science, and technology and to train qualified domestic personnel. Otherwise, it turns out that the whole country invests in foreign goods and technologies, paying for them through tariffs,” he said.
According to him, people should be encouraged to use renewable energy sources. To do so, he proposed launching pilot projects to install solar panels and micro-power plants as part of the development of smart cities.
“I am a firm supporter of clean energy and green technologies as a whole. I support the construction of power plants using renewable energy sources,” Tokayev said.
Kazakhstan plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 as part of the nation’s strengthened national climate plan, the commitment Tokayev announced at the Climate Ambitions Summit in December.
Globally, countries are on their path to decarbonization. The EU countries plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 and from 2023, the EU will introduce a carbon tax, which can significantly hinder the export of Kazakh products, said Tokayev.
Kazakhstan’s commitment to decarbonization will position the nation positively in the international arena.
“It is important to understand that at this stage of global development, the status, reputation, and the international capabilities of any country will be largely determined by the contribution to the decarbonization of the world economy. In particular, this will be one of the criteria determining the possibility of Kazakhstan’s admission to the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development),” said Tokayev.
The government has been working to develop the Low-Carbon Development Concept by 2050, a national project for the development of the electric power industry, and the country’s energy balance by 2035.
Many of the nation’s facilities are outdated and are in need of a major overhaul.
“There is a need for a large-scale technical audit of energy sources. We must clearly understand where and when the launch or disposal of power facilities, their repair and modernization will take place,” Tokayev said.
At the meeting, Tokayev noted the important role of the electric power industry in the nation’s economy. But more needs to be done.
“Ensuring energy security is one of the main tasks. The rate of energy consumption in Kazakhstan is growing from year to year. However, the new energy sources that are being launched do not match the growth rate. In fact, the country’s development directly depends on the stability of the energy sector,” Tokayev said.
Efficient energy use and energy saving remain crucial, said Tokayev, noting that Kazakhstan is one of the world’s most energy-intensive countries.
“Kazakhstan’s economy is three times more energy-intensive compared to the OECD countries, despite the fact that the main share in our GDP is occupied by the service sector. This suggests that the fixed assets and equipment at industrial enterprises do not meet the modern standards of OECD and other advanced countries. Often there is an imitation, but not a real modernization of the fixed assets of our industry,” he said.
Tokayev said that the fairness and accessibility of tariffs are a matter of economic and social importance. All tariffs were frozen until the end of March in an effort to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic, but it is not possible to keep them at the same level permanently.
“It is no secret that any increase in tariffs is usually shifted first to business and budget organizations. In some areas, the difference amounts to 400 percent. This not only distorts the market but also does not create incentives for lean energy consumption. The tasks of energy efficiency and energy intensity reduction are not being fulfilled,” he said.
During the meeting, Tokayev also stressed the importance of nuclear energy, which, he said, should not be written off.
“The entire developed world relies on nuclear power. Phobias are out of place here. However, it is necessary to explain it to the people. We will not be rushing with the construction of nuclear power plants, but we should not be late with this,” said Tokayev.
What needs to be done?
Tokayev emphasized the importance of modernizing and launching new generating capacities and brought up the project to convert Almaty’s thermal power plant-2 to gas as an example.
“This issue is of strategic importance. Almaty’s ecology, and of course, the improvement of the quality of life of people depends on addressing this problem. I instruct the government, the Samruk Kazyna, and the city’s akimat to make a final decision on the modernization of the plant and begin it as soon as possible. Any delay is absolutely unacceptable,” Tokayev said.
He called on the government to attract international investors to develop the energy industry. Negotiations are underway with investors from the United Arab Emirates, France, and other European countries.
“Stability of supply and the tariffs availability are the key components of national competitiveness. Therefore, it is important that the electricity price be based on its fair market value,” he added.
The nation should have high-quality specialists who will be ready to study new areas and technologies in the field given the rapid development of the industry. He proposed to create a New Energy Competence Center for this purpose.
“We are talking about a possible breakthrough in the development of hydrogen energy. We must be prepared for such a scenario. It is necessary to have a pool of specialists who are able to work with such technologies,” said Tokayev.