Wind of Change: UAE’s Masdar Launches Energy Project in Kazakhstan, Solidifies Presence in Central Asia

ASTANA – The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Masdar renewable energy company has ensured its presence throughout Central Asia after announcing the construction of its first one-gigawatt (GW) wind power station in Kazakhstan last week. Masdar has long recognized Central Asia’s incredible potential for renewable energy, said Maryam Al Mazrouei, the company’s senior manager, in an interview with The Astana Times. 

Photo credit: Space4Climate.

“The project is an important step in accelerating Kazakhstan’s energy transition. It will have a transformative impact on the local community,” said Mazrouei, who is responsible for the company’s development and investment activities in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia. 

Kazakhstan’s clean energy ambitions

Maryam Al Mazrouei

Indeed, the $1.4 billion large-scale wind project aligns with Kazakhstan’s goal to transition from fossil fuels towards clean energy. By 2030, the country has pledged to increase renewables capacity to 15% of its energy supply and, by 2060, to reach net zero carbon emissions.  

Mazrouei characterized the project as “a start for further development of Masdar’s interests in Kazakhstan.” She noted that the company is ramping up its global investments as it targets 100 GW total capacity by 2030.

Spearheaded by Masdar, the wind power project will also involve participation of Abu Dhabi-based W Solar, the Qazaq Green Power renewable company, and the Kazakhstan Investment Development Fund (KIDF).   

“Even though clean energy is relatively new to Kazakhstan, nearly 5% of electricity is generated by renewables, and the government has pledged to scale up the renewable energy generation to 10% by 2030. Wind power is a massive untapped resource,” said Mazrouei. 

Data from the Kazakh Ministry of Energy indicates that the volume of renewable energy generation reached 5.11 billion kilowatts per hour (kWh) by the end of 2022, with the highest share coming from wind – 2.4 billion kWh. 

“Kazakhstan and the UAE have strong relations built over many years of mutual understanding. With the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on deepening energy cooperation, both countries have reached an important milestone. This is a strong foundation for future collaboration, including in renewables,” said Mazrouei.  

The agreement was reached during the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai with participation of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. 

Masdar’s journey in Central Asia’s energy market

Masdar, according to Mazrouei, is the pioneer in offering innovative solutions for Central Asia. She noted that the company is “deeply committed to supporting Central Asian states in their bold energy transitions.” 

“It is an exciting strategic market for us, and we look forward to developing further landmark projects in the region,” she said.

The UAE company is now “proud to say it is active in every Central Asian country,” according to Mazrouei. 

“In Uzbekistan, our portfolio of clean energy projects, including battery energy storage, exceeds 4 GW. The projects are either operational or in the development process,” she noted. 

The Uzbek government set a target to install 7 GW of solar and 5 GW of wind capacity by 2030. The 500 MW utility-scale wind farm project in the Uzbek city of Zarafshon in the Navoiy Region is considered as Masdar’s largest wind farm in the region so far.

As part of COP28, UAE’s Masdar and France’s EDF electric utility company have agreed to explore the development of hydropower and renewable projects with a combined capacity of up to 3.6 gigawatts (GW) in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

Last November, Masdar entered Turkmenistan’s market by launching its first project on the development of a 100-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant.  

“We have also recently entered the market of Tajikistan with plans to explore the construction of clean energy projects with a total capacity of 500 MW, including floating solar power plants,” said Mazrouei. 

Kazakh vast steppes make the country’s territory suitable for the development of wind energy. As a case in point, wind turbines in Rodina (Motherland) village generate enough electricity to meet the residents’ needs. 

Kazakhstan has 133 renewable energy facilities so far 48 wind, 43 solar, 39 hydropower, and three biogas power stations. Green energy, infrastructure, and digitization continue to take center stage for the Kazakh government’s activities in attracting foreign capital towards building a long-term sustainable growth in the region.  

Green energy production is part of the Central Asian agenda. Its development will not only enable the region to meet the rising energy demand but also mitigate the adverse environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption. 

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